(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Vignettes from Indian wars"

|C0 
■CO 
:LO 



ry OF TO 

1111 

0179 


r 


UNI 

176 


^__— 


CO 




VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 



BY THE SAM E AUTHOR 

THE ARMIES OF INDIA 

PIKE AND CARRONADE 

A FREELANCE IN KASHMIR (A ROMANCE) 

THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE WAR (EGYPT AND PALESTINE) 

AFGHANISTAN FROM DARIUS TO AMANULLAH 

BEHIND THE SCENES IN MANY WARS 

GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS: THE NORTHERN HURRICANE 

THE KING'S PAWNS 

THE INDIAN MUTINY IN PERSPECTIVE 

THE RELIGIONS AND HIDDEN CULTS OF INDIA 

THE ROMANCE OF THE INDIAN FRONTIERS 

THE ARMY — LIFE AND WORK SERIES 

THE MARTIAL RACES OF INDIA 



V 




t» a^ 1 ^ 



The Master Gunner 



[Frontispiece 



VIGNETTES FROM 
INDIAN WARS 



BY 
LIEUT.-GENERAL 

SIR GEORGE MACMUNN 

K.C.B., K.C.S.I., D.S.O., p.s.c. 
{Colonel Commandant The Royal Artillery) 



SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & CO., LTD. 
LONDON 



2>S 






f FEB 21 1966 



.& 



Y 01 



1051643 



MADE AND PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY PURNELL AND SONS 
PADLTON (SOMERSET) AND LONDON 



KA S H M I R 




Sketch Map of Northern India to illustrate the Campaigns of Lord Lake, Lord Gough and Sir Charles Napier 



INTRODUCTION 

Wars must pass into perspective and drift behind the mists 
of time, and loss and remembrance must have been softened, 
before their story and their romance can be enjoyed. The 
many smaller wars which accompanied the Great War will 
grow in romance and interest as the years roll by, to which 
their Eastern setting will lend more colour. But though no war 
like the last and no side-campaigns on so great a scale have 
occurred before, yet this Island kingdom, this "Swan's nest 
in a pool" has more than once poured forth its armies from 
homestead and manor and city. In the Napoleonic wars, the 
British army was flung to the four quarters of the world, and 
the East even then added its glamour to the story, while our 
Eastern Empire and dependencies owe much of their increase 
to the impetus which the hostility of the French engendered. 

The strange fate which took us to India and made us heirs- 
at-law to the crumbling Turkish Empire, which men call the 
Mogul, has caused us to evolve that great Indian Army which 
British officers have eagerly led . . . those officers whom 
Indians have eagerly followed from the China Wall to the 
Flanders flats. Long even before the days of Napoleon, the 
British and French crossed bayonets in India, and long after 
St. Helena, when Europe was enjoying its forty years of peace, 
the British were struggling with the forces of disruption which 
the dying away of the Mogul had loosed, and the intrigues and 
endeavours of the French had stimulated. 

The more recent story of the British Indian Army is well 
enough known, but the earlier story, or perhaps it might more 
correctly be termed the middle story of that Great Line dressed 
and drilled on the British model, which began to rise about the 



VI INTRODUCTION 

time of the French Revolution, first on the Dettingen pattern 
and later in the spirit of the Peninsula army, is a sealed book 
to many of the present generation. 

Yet it was against this Indian Army, with its British core, 
that the huge Mahratta and Sikh armies broke in vain, till a 
large part of it came to a sudden end in that mad tragedy 
which men call the great Indian Mutiny. That fate, however, 
overtook the Army of Bengal only, and those of Madras and 
Bombay slipped away into the armies of to-day without the 
strange purge which spent out the larger force. 

The story of the Line of John Company, dressed in scarlet 
so that it should the better impress the armies of the Native 
States by its likeness to the actual Line of Britain, is full of 
romance, the romance of war mingled with the romance of the 
Mogul Empire and its remnants. The romance, too, runs far 
past it into the mists of time when Alexander fought with 
Porus on the banks of the Jhelum close to that other battlefield 
of Chillianwallah, through the ages to the day when the last 
Mogul puppet, an aged pantaloon, staked the fortunes of the 
remnant of his house on the mad throw of the dice which the 
Bengal Army threw and lost. 

It is especially interesting now when the last of the four 
great Turkish Empires which divided the rule of Asia has fallen 
— the alien Kajar Dynasty of Persia — to realize that the first 
emperor to go, he of Delhi, was maintained in pensioned 
decrepitude by the British, after rescue by Lord Lake, blind 
and miserable, from the hands of his Mahratta captors. These 
four Turkish and Tartar dynasties have fallen in the following 
order, first the Moguls of Delhi, then in the present days the 
Manchu Empire of China, the House of Othman at Constan- 
tinople, and now the Turkish Kajar Dynasty of Persia — "and 
none so poor as do them reverence." 

The vignettes shown in these pages are focussed to give some 
colour and romance to the dry bones of story, and to reclothe 
them from the sidelights which remain for those who care to 
look for them, as well as from the impressions to be found by 



INTRODUCTION Vll 

roaming over the ground and climbing among deserted for- 
tresses and ruined cantonments. To strike the broken strings to 
melody, I have commenced the series with the life story of a 
veritable eyewitness, an ancient elephant which had passed 
from the service of the British to that of the Maharajah 
Sindiah, expanded from a curious occurrence at Delhi at the 
time of Lord Curzon's durbar. The actual series I have opened 
with the story of the disastrous battle of Panipat in 1761, the 
battle fought hard by "the Black Mango Tree," which stood 
so long on the plain. Here it was Afghan and Mahratta who 
fought for the custody of the abject Mogul Emperor and his 
magic sign manual, and after the battle the evil news swept 
through India in the cryptic message explained in the story. 
Then follow some incidents of Lord Lake's campaigns, with 
the rescue of the now blinded Emperor from Mahratta hands 
and the two sieges of Bhurtpur. In Victorian times the story 
of "The Illustrious Garrison," the Defence of Jalalabad during 
the first Afghan War, the Battle of Maharajpore when Lord 
Gough smashed the Mahratta armies for the last time, and some 
vignettes of the two Sikh Wars, bring the tale up to the Great 
Mutiny and the coming of the present era. Of the Mutiny, 
the drama of its coming to the ancient Mogul capital, is the 
most striking of all, and to it have been added two side stories 
which show something of the life of the time. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER 

I. 

II. 
III. 



Introduction .... 

A Cycle of Cathay 

The Black Mango Tree, 1761 . 

Lord Lake's Campaigns 

i. The Battle of Delhi, 1803 
ii. Lake's Pursuit of Holkar, 1804 

IV. The Two Sieges of Bhurtpur . 
i. 1805 
ii. 1826 

V. The Pindari War, 181 7-1 9 

The Battle of Kirkee, 18 17 
VI. The First Afghan War 

The Illustrious Garrison, 1841 

VII. The Gwalior War . 

Maharajpore and Punniar, 1843 

VIII. The Conquest of Sind, 1843 
Meeanee and Hyderabad 

IX. The Sikh Wars 

i. Ferozeshah, 1845 

ii. Chilli an wallah, 1849 

iii. Goojerat, 1849 

X. The Indian Mutiny .... 
i. Dawn at Delhi, May iith, 1857 
ii. The Master Gunner 

XI. The Frontier Wars of 1897 
The Storming of Dargai 

XII. From Sepoy to Subahdar . 

Index 



PAGE 

v 
1 

3i 



47 

62 

72 

88 

102 

120 

159 

182 

195 
211 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



The Master Gunner .... Frontispiece 

Officer of the Bundlecund Legion 

Bengal Infantry .... 

Akbar Khan .... 

The 3RD Light Dragoons at Ferozeshah 

The War Medals of India. I 

Shah Shujah-ul-Mulk . 

Field-Marshal Sir George Pollock 

The Passage of the Chumbal 

The War Medals of India. II. . 

The Afghan War Medals 

The Battle of Sobraon 

Ferozeshah ..... 

Battlefield of Chillianwallah 

The Battle of Goojerat 

The Lahore Gate of the Delhi Palace-Fort 

The Bengal Horse Artillery in Afghanistan 

The Kashmir Gate of Delhi City 

The Storming of Delhi .... 



12 

12 

24 

46 

60 

72 

84 

96 

102 

102 

120 

132 

i34 
144 

156 
158 
170 
204 



VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

i 

A CYCLE OF CATHAY 

(As seen by Captain Foresight) 

Ghore par howdah, hathi par zeen 
Jaldi chagya Warren Hasteen. 1 

(Old Indian Lullaby.) 

As the evening gun flashed and reverberated over the huge 
durbar camp at Mogul Delhi, studded with twinkling lights 
and merry camp-fires, I, James Foresight, a simple captain of 
artillery in general and of a heavy battery in particular, stepped 
out of the gunner mess-tent into the cool moonlight, loosened 
my jacket, and, weary of dessert and mess chatter, leant against 
a howitzer in the battery gun-park. 

The spirit of reverie that haunts an Indian evening descended 
on me, and there in the durbar camp, within a rifle-shot of 
"the Ridge," a thousand thoughts crowded on each other, of 
ancient India, of Prince Gautama and Alexander of Macedon, 
of Timurlang and the mighty Babar, and then of the India of 
"John Company," down to my own poor wanderings, while 
the band from the Viceroy's pavilion sounded clear across the 
camps, even as the strains of mutineer bands, playing British 
airs to the imperial puppet, must have reached "the masters" 
as they clung to that ridge close on half a century ago. 

The moonlight glinted from the four long khaki barrels of 
the heavy guns, and their howitzer satellites, no longer drawn 

1 Howdah on horse, elephant with saddle 
Thus hastily fled great Warren Hastings. 



2 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

by giant elephants, but confided to the lumbering "twenty 
yoke of the 40-pounder train.' ' 

From time immemorial the heavy guns, called in some shrewd 
jest the "true politicals" of India, had been drawn by elephants, 
and only their ammunition-waggons by bullocks; and now, by 
a recent edict, elephants had been discarded — discarded at any 
rate till a 40-pounder next jams in the Khaiber. So, down by 
the gun-park I dreamed of the past pomp of my battery, now 
dimmed by the loss of our famous elephants, and mused on, 
on the varying phases of a soldier's life in India; of my sub- 
altern service with the mountain artillery, lightest of the dogs 
of war yet hardly least; of my first sojourn with elephants in 
Burma, when we hoisted our 7-pounders on their backs to 
thread the Pinmana jungles. Then on to years spent with 
the jingling gun-mule all the frontier round, wandering 
on to stories of Clive and Cornwallis, of Lake and Wellesley, 
and of the romance of Indian soldiering, that, descending 
through Donald Stewart and Roberts, still lingers on the 
Afghan marches, with 

" The flying bullet down the pass, 
That whistles shrill, 'All flesh is grass '," 

where my best friend lies, shot through the heart as he breasted 
a kotal at the head of his battery. 

" Salaam, sahib," broke on my dreams, the salute of a muffled 
figure that had approached from the bullock-lines. It was 
none other than my old friend Sheikh Bhulloo, for some time 
jemadar of mahouts in my battery, now chief of the hathi-khana 
(elephant-stable) of Sindiah, in whose retinue he had come 
with the State elephants to the durbar, and had hastened to 
greet us the first spare moment he had had. He had been with 
our artillery elephants at Pinmana, and I had met him again in 
charge of the beasts carrying commissariat grain-bags to our 
posts on the Yunan frontier. In those days a bottle of chloro- 
dyne and a tin of Swiss milk had enabled me to cure the old 



A CYCLE OF CATHAY 3 

man of what he firmly believed to be cholera, so he was pro- 
portionately grateful, and delighted beyond measure at meeting 
me at Delhi, and finding me the captain of his former heavy 
battery. He had returned the chlorodyne favour by curing me 
of ague in those same frontiers by giving me some of his pet 
opium pills, and as ague had been threatening me for the last 
two nights, I felt inclined to ask for a pill now. 

"Well, Sheikh Bhulloo, how goes the hathi-khanal " 

" By the favour of the Presence, all is well. To-night is old 
Seevaji's festival; he is the oldest elephant in Hindostan, and 
has been with Sindiah since the Great Fear ; men say he carried 
Carnwallis sahib, and even the Horrible Istink 1 sahib. Gopi 
Nath has just repainted his head, and three chirags [oil-lamps] 
burn on his skull-top; will not the Presence come and see him. 
Shisha Nag, who used to be head elephant in No. 4 gun in the 
Huzoor's battery, is with him, and as the prince-born knows, 
Shisha Nag drew Lord Lake's guns when the Huzoors first 
came to Delhi; but Seevaji is older than he." 

"Of course I'll come and see Seevaji, and old Shisha 
Nag too; but wait till I get my cloak, for I've had ague 
these two nights." When I returned with my cape I found 
the old man examining the new breech-loading howitzers 
with intense interest: cannon have always fascinated the 
Asiatic. 

"The Presence has ague! he must have dfeem" (opium), said 
Sheikh Bhulloo, and I was at once presented with an opium 
pill of considerable size. 

"It won't hurt the Presence," said the old mahout anxiously, 
and so, not without a qualm, I swallowed it, and followed him 
towards Sindiah's camp. 

The chiefs' camp lay far through the maze of army camps; 
past the native cavalry, row after row of hobbled squadrons 
and forests of lances and pennons; past the horse and field 
artillery, every gun-muzzle in scrupulous dressing; past the 
squat vixen screw-guns of the mountain batteries; through 

1 The Honourable Mr. Hastings. 



4 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

street on street of close-packed battalions, British and native; 
past camp-fires and cheery sing-songs — 

" Jolly good song, jolly well sung, 
Jolly good comrades every one " 



till we came to the medlied establishments of the native chiefs. 
Slipping past the spreading tents and shamianas of the potentates, 
we came to their cavalry camps and gun-park, differing scarcely 
at all from a gathering of Mogul feudatories of perhaps a couple 
of centuries ago, since in the immutable East a century is but a 
span. 

In the rajwara gun-park there was little of the sombre order 
obtaining in the Sirkar's camp a mile or so away. Big guns and 
little guns, silver and even gilt, dragon-mouthed and ostenta- 
tious, lay in delightful medley. Field-guns that Scotch Sangster 
had cast at Agra for De Boigne's French-trained contingent a 
century ago, silver coehorns on rosewood carriages from Indore, 
rakish swivel-guns, bell-mouthed zumbooraks, long-barrelled 
sher butchas from mountain fortresses, every fantastic piece of 
ordnance that oriental ingenuity could devise, stood cheek by 
jowl on the nitre flats by the Jumna, while beyond them loomed 
two huge elephants, and some fifty yards farther on a dozen 
more. By this time my dfeem pill had allayed the incipient 
chattering of the ague, and was producing a feeling altogether 
novel, — so much so, that when finally settled on the trail of a 
huge lumbering bombard, within a dozen yards or so of Seevaji 
and Shisha Nag, I felt hardly surprised at the weird effect of 
the lighted chirags flickering on the former's crown, or the 
elaborate painting on his forehead that showed up fitfully as the 
wicks flared and sank again. 

"That's Seevaji, the world-compeller, the mover of moun- 
tains," whispered my guide. "See his tusks, mounted with 
gold; Sindiah had that done when Seevaji charged through his 
own mutinous troops at the time of the Terror, and enabled 
him to escape to the British, so that he preserved his honour 



A CYCLE OF CATHAY 5 

and his fidelity. Forty-five years ago to-day, and his Highness 
always gives bukhsheesh to the hathi-khana and decorates 
Seevaji, the Amir-i-filan [Prince of elephants], lest he turn on 
us and kill his mahout: seven mahouts has he killed in my 
memory, Huzoor, and what he has seen and what he knows no 
man can tell. See the garlands of roses the Maharajah sent 
him this morning; he will only wear them if his temper is 
good." 

Weird indeed, uncanny and unearthly, loomed that mountain 
of flesh and bone, the wrinkles in brow and trunk forming a 
rugged silhouette in the full fragrant moonlight that the white 
nitre efflorescence on the ground reflected with the brilliance 
of an arc-lamp. A couple of yards behind stood my old friend 
Shisha Nag, the erstwhile leader of four gun, a contemporary of 
Gerald Lake, of Delhi and Laswari, — " Lucky Lake" men called 
him, for all the hazards he took and won, — an elephant old and 
venerable to mere human ideas, but a child beside Seevaji, 
whose close ally he now was. 

Both the leviathans were weaving steadily after the manner 
of their kind from one leg to another — a movement which 
conveyed the impression of deep reverie and contemplative 
reflection, and which would go on solemnly for hours at a 
stretch. 

" Khudawand, Seevaji will soon begin to talk," whispered the 
jemadar mahout. "We never know what he will say, but he 
tells of battles and sieges, of suttees and sacrifices, of wholesale 
bow-stringings in the bibi ghat " 

"Come, come, Sheikh Bhulloo, don't talk rot," I began; but 
— was it rot? was it so absurd that an animal living to twice, 
and perhaps thrice, threescore years and ten, with a brain and 
wisdom more approaching man's than does any other animal's, 
should acquire in the course of years the thoughts and speech 
of its owners ? Absurd or not, it began to seem to me, leaning 
against that medieval cannon, that it would be the most natural 
thing in the world for that elephant, with its ceaseless rhythmic 
weaving, to reveal some of the impressions that those small 



6 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

and cunning eyes had recorded on its brain, and I continued 
to gaze expectant on the two leviathans, while the chirags 
flickered and leapt. 

I had not long to wait. "Oho, Shisha Nag! oho! What has 
the Sirkar done with the gun-elephants? Never before have I 
seen the big English guns drawn by bullocks alone." 

I could not at first discover from which beast the voice came, 
a hollow voice wavering with age, but it was evidently Seevaji 
speaking; and he spoke remarkably good Persian, which I 
understood, though now and again he broke into Mahratti 
which was harder to follow. 

"The Sirkar prefers bullocks, O Seevaji! Dirty, grain-fed 
bullocks, that sleep all day, and can't pull the weight when the 
ghats are muddy; ay, and has bred a new horse too, all hair 
and bone, thinking they will make the 40-pounders gallop and 
trot like Lake sahib's galloper guns. To think that I, who 
shoved General Malcolm sahib's siege-trains through the 
Vindhyn Mountains ere Asirghar had fallen, should live to see 
it, Are bap-re ! " rumbled from Shisha Nag, our old gun-leader, 
in less quavering tones. 

"Bullocks!" wheezed old Seevaji. "Bullocks! did a bullock 
ever do aught but die when the work was hard? Ask General 
Abercrombie about it! I well remember, but it is so long ago 
that all other elephants are dead, the trouble the English had; 
I then belonged to Suckojee Rao Endulkar, who commanded 
a Mahratta panch-hdzdree 1 in Sindiah's service: the Rao 
himself rode me, and my trappings were finer than the great 
Lord sahib's this day. 

"We marched south to help the Angrez [English]; Carn- 
wallis sahib, the Angrez ldt> had beaten Tippu, and those 
misgotten Mysore log, and would have pressed to Seringapatam, 
but all his bullocks died, died like locusts in the cold, and he 
had to wait for the Bhow, who was bringing many elephants 
from Poona. Well I remember the talk about it, and the 
Brinjara 1 folk said the Angrez over-marched their bullocks; 
1 A corps of 5,000 horse. * A tribe of hereditary carriers. 



A CYCLE OF CATHAY 7 

but we elephants knew better — we knew that when bullocks 
draw guns, elephants will sooner or later have to do it for 
them. 

"Abercrombie sahib at that time was marching from Bombay 
and the Konkan, and his bullocks died too, so we all waited 
near Bangalore. Why does not the Sirkar find out what Ldt 
Carnwallis sahib said about bullocks after that ? 

"Some English troops from Bombay came with the Bhow. 
Captain Little sahib commanded; he was a great friend with 
my Rao, and they would go shooting tigers on my back. Those 
were fine times, Shisha Nag, fine times; hundreds of banners 
were carried with the Bhow's army, — each Mahratta chief had 
his own. We had 40-pounders in those days also, cast by a 
Portuguese in the Peshwa's fort at Poona. I often had to go 
shove them out of their mud, for their wheels were of solid teak 
and sank deep. 

"The Angrez army was a fine sight too, men called it the 
Grand Army. Carnwallis sahib rode a white Arab, and the flag 
of the English was carried behind him on an elephant; that 
was before your time, Shisha Nag. We then marched into the 
mountains to Nundy Droog — the Bhow and some of the Grand 
Army — and took it after twenty-two days, and the Bhow's 
Rohilla companies killed the killedar [governor] and threw half 
his Arab garrison headlong from the cliffs of the Droog, 600 feet 
in the sheer, where they fell on the prickly-pear bushes, and lie 
there still, for aught I know, to this day, which much pleased 
Ldt Carnwallis sahib. I trampled the killedar under my feet, 
and many another, as we went through the gate, which was 
full of Tippu's dead Arabs. I was not afraid of men's blood 
in those days, though I can't face a slaughtered goat now. 

"In the spring we returned to see Ldt Carnwallis storm 
Seringapatam, after which the Rao always feared the English, 
though why Tippu was not put to death we never could under- 
stand, nor why he was allowed to keep his fortress till he again 
became rebellious, so that General Harris and Arthur Wellesley 
sahib bahadur, had to kill him six rains later. I was there also. 



8 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

"Next hot weather we returned to Poona, where Nana 
Furnavis ruled the Peshwa for the good of the land, and sent 
us off to fight the Nizam's army, never heeding the British 
Resident, who forbade it. The Nizam had 14,000 men, but we 
beat them, and cut the throats of all our prisoners save M. 
Perron and fourteen Feringhi [French] soldiers, who worked 
the artillery. I drew the Rao's brass 18-pounder that morning, 
the one with the devil mouth that stands yonder even to-day. 

"We captured M. Perron's camp and all his chief's women; 
there was a Feringhi maid too, whom the Rao claimed as his 
share. He carried her off in a howdah on my back that night, 
though she wept bitterly. The Rao put his arm round her and 
she bit him till he bled, so that he swore again, but vowed she 
was fit wife for a reiving Mahratta, and so she was. I took 
them across the Nerbudda, in full spate from the mango showers, 
when he sent her west in a litter, and what came of her I never 
heard : belike she was the mother of the two boys who carried 
his standards at Kirkee, and were killed by the English artillery; 
men said their mother was of Europe. 

"I saw nine Feringhi gunners who would not leave their 
cannon brought prisoners to camp that morning and given to 
the Arab company, who made targets of them, for the Angrez 
and the Feringhi were of no account in the Deccan in those 
days. The Rao had already forgotten Carnwallis sahib and his 
* Grand Army,' though I remembered well enough." And here 
old Seevaji grunted disgust at the folly of his dead and gone 
masters, as well he might, for their tether was to be short 
enough. 

The little lamps on the leviathan's skull flickered and danced 
to the tales of battle and murder, while I, seated on that devil- 
mouthed gun from M. Perron's park, was strangely unsurprised 
to hear old-world stories from the wrinkled mammoth. Not so, 
however, Sheikh Bhulloo, who cowered and prayed to Hindu 
gods his fathers had long forsworn. 

" Sahib, surely he is a bhut [ghost] : much blood has he seen, 
and knows all the evil that Mahratta and M'lech wrought a 



A CYCLE OF CATHAY 9 

hundred years ago — nine full-sized cakes shall he have for 
breakfast, with best molasses atop — ohe, best beloved ! " 

The chirags flared once again with a frosty blue flame, and 
this living record, weaving through the smoke of the wood-fires, 
his bead-eyes ever twinkling, continued to croon out his history : — 

"After that the Rao marched through the Canara jungles 
back to Poona, levying a tax of 500 rupees and five maids on 
every village we passed, and if any man resisted we roasted his 
legs, so that he denied us nothing. One moneylender there 
was who swore he had not a penny ; he was too fat to roast, so 
an Afghan captain of horse offered to deal with him. They put 
centipedes in his ears and nostrils, and plugged them in with 
cow- dung, and then locked him in a coffer with burrowing 
stag-beetles. In half an hour he promised two lacs, which so 
pleased the Rao that he gave the Afghan the banker's two 
daughters and 5,000 rupees besides, vowing it was a pretty jest. 
That was how we kept the peasantry in order before the English 
broke the Mahratta barons and Pindari chiefs, or young English- 
men could ride about the country in their shirt-sleeves giving 
orders to whom they please. 

"When we arrived at Poona Holkar wanted to put the Rao's 
panch-hdzdree under a Feringhi officer; but the Rao refused, 
and marched west again for his own land, vowing vengeance 
against upstart bastard princes. Then we came to the Ghats 
above Bombay, where we captured the inner and outer forts of 
Raj-Machee from one Jeswunt Rao, patel of Junair, and thence 
raided cattle and girls from the Konkan for three years more, 
close to where men tell me the fire-carriage now climbs the 
Western Ghats by Khandalla. Once an English force attacked 
our fort, but we drove them back, the Rao pouring molten lead 
on the party of soldiers who tried to blow in the outer gate. 

"Three white wounded soldiers were left, whom we impaled 
on the elephant spikes of the big teakwood gates as a warning 
to let us be. I pressed with my forehead on each till the spikes 
pierced them, for my mahout urged me with the sharp of his 
ankus ; for which pain I tore his outcaste head off later. 



10 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

"Next year we raided down to the rich green Konkan till 
the Angrez fired at us across the water from the old Portuguese 
forts on the island of Salsette. There was a Portuguese sahib 
with us, who cast the Rao's cannon, who danced and swore to 
see it. Ho-ho, a merry life we lived in Raj-Machee, gradually 
capturing the hill-forts round — Visaghur with the Jain temple, 
Torna, Toonga, and Lohoghur, where lay the long gun from 
the sea, that belonged to the old English queen, with a rose 
and an English letter cast on its breach. 

"When the Peshwa sent to us for tribute we flung his vakil, 
a Mahratta Brahmin, over the Ramoosie bastion of Torna, 
700 feet below to the rocks and the cactus-hedge, that all men 
might know that the Rao fought for his own hand. His horse 
took toll of every caravan, and the Salsette fishers sent him 
three maids a-year, the price of their bamboo villages. At that 
time there were fifty Arab horsemen in the Rao's service, who 
had deserted from the Nizam, and who, having grown proud 
from much loot and licence, vowed they would ride north and 
seek new adventures in Khandeish, which they did, taking the 
Rao's pet 3 -pounder gun with them, and four of his own Arab 
horses, hoping to cross the Mutha before they were missed. 
But the river was in spate, and the Mahratta horse from all the 
Rao's forts caught them at the ford, and brought them back in 
irons before him, sitting in durbar in the upper fort of Raj- 
Machee, overlooking the courtyard. With him sat his chief 
officers drinking sherbet, and as the prisoners were brought in 
he scowled on them and spat, saying, ' Poke their eyes out, and 
cast them loose outside the gates,' which was done then and 
there, while he further ordered their families to be cast lots for 
among their captors, so that men said the Rao was just and 
merciful." 

Here that horror-proof beast strained at his lashings and 
scattered dust and hay-stalks on his back with his trunk, while 
across the camp reverberated the rolling drum and squealing 
fife, ordering all troops to bed, till shrill and clear through the 
tents rang the cavalry trumpets sounding the Last Post, dying 



A CYCLE OF CATHAY II 

away and re-echoing amid the mist of the river to the minarets 
beyond. In the tense crisp silence succeeding the trumpet-call 
Seevaji recommenced his saga: — 

"'Twas about that time, Shisha Nag, that Holkar beat 
Sindiah and the Peshwa outside Poona, on the Ahmednagar 
road. The Peshwa fled through the hills to Bassein, and the 
Rao sent me with two brass guns as a present to Holkar, offering 
service. Poona was overrun by Holkar's men, and Bapu 
Furnavis was skinned alive, till he told ere he died where the 
Peshwa's silver guns were hidden. 

"Much talk there was at this time of driving the English 
into the sea, and how the Feringhi 1 emperor in Europe would 
send guns and ships to assist. Sindiah and Holkar were to be 
friends, and all the Mahrattas would act together, and the 
English rule would be swept from the land; but I, who had 
seen the army of Carnwallis sahib, knew better. Before the 
Mahrattas had thought of moving, up over the Ghats came 
Wellesley sahib, Bahadur, and Stevenson sahib, with guns and 
English soldiers and lacs of sepoys. They stormed the big 
fort at Ahmednagar, and we with Sindiah were beaten at 
Assaye. 

"I was captured there by an English regiment that wore 
slashed red-coats and long white hair. Those Angrez came 
over the Kaitna ford before we knew they were there, though 
all our guns spat canister. The red-coats charged our guns as 
we tried to get them away; two Feringhi gunners who tried to 
hook me to mine were bayoneted, while a tumbril behind me 
blew up, killing two gun-elephants, and the rest bolted, up- 
setting our regiment of sepoys that D'Auvergne sahib had 
trained in the Feringhi fashion; but I did not bolt, for I knew 
the English. 

"Wellesley sahib then came up without his horse, and called 
to my mahout to make me kneel, which I did, the general and 
two other officers getting up. He was cursing because his 

1 Seevaji used Feringhi meaning "Frank" for French and Angrez- for 

English. 



12 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

Arab had broken away from his orderly and had galloped after 
our elephants. One of the English officers held a pistol to my 
mahout's head, bidding him follow the English dragoons, so I 
hurried all I could. We stopped by an English sepoy regiment 
that had ceased firing and begun to carry away its dead and 
wounded. The colonel came up, and the general hissed some- 
thing at him, so that he shouted to his men and hit a native 
officer over the head, when the regiment then doubled after us, 
and all the Mahratta army fled or was captured. 

"So I entered the English service and ate their sugar-cane 
for many a long year, but shall never forget Wellesley sahib 
that day, and how the English colonels were afraid of him. 

"Back I came to Poona, perhaps twelve years later, when 
Bajee Rao had forgotten Wellesley sahib. There was a battle 
at Kirkee, and I helped the English bullocks drag their guns 
through the Sangam marsh. Bajee Rao fled with the Nana 
Dundoo Punt, the cowherd's son. They hid in the cave temple 
near Bamburda, where men say the old priest who urged the 
Nana to kill the English at Cawnpore still lives to this day. 
They also say, though I believe it not, that the English knew he 
was there but would not take him. Men say, too, the English 
are changed since those days. Ldt Carnwallis sahib would not 
have liked that, even though he did spare Tippu. 'Twas not 
long ago that three Mahratta Brahmins came to Gwalior, who 
said that that Bamburda priest was alive, and had planned the 
murder of the English commissioner who brought the great 
sickness five years ago; but who knows? for all Mahrattas lie, 
even as they lied to Arthur Wellesley sahib. 

"But who had seen the like of the English in those days, O 
Shisha Nag? It was soon after that, when they had brought 
Burman bells from Rangoon to cast more siege-guns, and also 
twenty-seven Mingoon elephants from Ava to draw them, that 
Ldt Combermere, bahadur, the new war-ldt, marched against 
Bhurtpur with an army as big as Carnwallis sahib's in the old 
days. All Hindustan believed the English could not take the 
fortress, since Lake sahib failed twenty years before; but I, 





Q C 

PQ 

w 

H 



[Face page 1 2 



A CYCLE OF CATHAY 13 

who had carried Carnwallis sahib and Arthur Wellesley too, 
knew better. 

" Because men told him that I had carried those two Rustums, 
Combermere sahib must fain ride me also, and close under the 
Bhurtpur walls we rode, while Colonel Skinner's rissalah 
marched close behind, with all the elephants in the Purab 
drawing big guns: perhaps you were there too, Shisha Nag? 

"Outside Bhurtpur was the Begum Samru, who had come 
all the way from Sardhana to help the white English, for the 
sake of her dead lover, with 500 gorcheras [irregular cavalry] 
and three brass zumbooraks. Ldt Combermere got down from 
my back to receive her, kissing her before all the army, after 
the English fashion, as Lake sahib had done before him, till 
the young sahibs laughed again, though why the Ldt sahib 
should kiss a shrivelled old woman beats my comprehension, 
since even her brass guns were honeycombed and not worth 
having. Two days later one hundred cannon opened against 
the town. 

"Years after, when the Sirkar had given me to Sindiah, and 
he in the Terror had lent me to the English, and I helped bring 
the siege-guns to Delhi with Jan Nikalseyn, I heard the cannon 
during the last days on the Ridge ; but there was nothing like 
those at Bhurtpur, not even when the English sacked Lucknow. 
That was the last time I heard a gun fired in anger, and the 
Sirkar gave me back to Sindiah when fortress Gwalior was 
restored to him. So now I live in peace, Shisha Nag; but it's 
dull enough, for there's never a fight and rarely a rape, year in, 
year out: it's years since I've seen the English cannon till 
to-day, though now I've seen more white soldiers than ever 
marched with Carnwallis sahib and his Grand Army; but why 
they don't use elephants to draw their guns I know not, and 
perhaps am too old to care. That jemadar mahout who lights 
these foolish chirags sees me well fed, lest I tear him limb from 
limb, as I served the last who stole my sugar; and that's all I 
now care about, — for I'm old, Shisha Nag, and weak, and have 
waited a hundred years and more for Ldt Carnwallis sahib, 



14 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

bahadur-i-bahaduran, to need me once again." And here that 
weird beast trumpeted shrilly, and the line of elephants in rear 
seemed to move in the dust and the smoke of the fires, while 
mingled with them came horse and foot, Tippu and Bajee Rao, 
with their trains of artillery, Lord Cornwallis himself on old 
Seevaji, in tie-wig and Kevenheuller hat, Arthur Wellesley on 
the missing Arab, spare and trim, De Boigne and Perron, with 
their French batteries, Colonel Skinner in his canary regi- 
mentals, swarthy and eager, the Begum Samru beside him, 
Pathan and Rohilla, Mahratta and Pindari, Moplah and Vilayati 
in one ghostly panorama, with myself in gunner mess-kit, 
astride the devil gun, harnessed in the procession, till — I awoke 
in my own Kabul tent in the grey Indian dawn, still in uniform, 
my imperturbable khidmatgar standing at my side with my tea, 
while glancing furtively through the opening of the tent, his 
opium-box suggestively in his hand, stood old Sheikh Bhulloo, 
whom I had last seen cowering by that devil gun, as a century 
of Indian history filed before us. 



II 

THE BLACK MANGO TREE 

(The Last Battle of Panipat, 1761) 

"Two pearls have been dissolved, twenty-seven gold mohurs 
have been lost, and of the silver and copper the total cannot be 
cast up." — A Despatch from the Battle of Panipat. 

The Rise of Maharasthra 

Those who are brought into contact with the inner aspirations 
of the idealist section of the anti-British movement in India 
know well how Sivaji, the Mahratta prince, is held up as hero 
and saint and model to the militant Hindu. In the days of the 
Mogul Emperor Alumgir, whom men usually speak of by his 
personal name of Aurungzebe, in the days when the restored 
Stuart dynasty sat again on the throne of England, the distant 
provinces and feudatories of the Empire were in constant revo- 
lution. The emperor had abandoned the catholic tolerance of 
his forefathers, and everywhere the Crescent was taking its toll 
of Hinduism, so that the twice-born had been driven to fury 
and bitter despair. The Mahrattas, those mountain people of 
the Western Ghats, had long been a thorn in the Mogul side. 
They were a mixed people with a large Brahmin colony among 
them, and a numerous military class who, while claiming Rajput 
origin, had no doubt considerable aboriginal ancestry. As a 
power they consisted of a more or less varying federation of 
States and chiefs, whose object was to live on their neighbours. 
It was not till Sivaji, the son of a Mahratta captain, born in 
1627, forced himself to the head of the federation, that any- 

15 



l6 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

thing analogous to a national and patriotic sentiment arose 
among them. The persecutions of Aurungzebe had prepared 
the Hindu races for a war of religious freedom. Under Sivaji 
a Hindu State was formed which gradually gained control of 
Western India. Sivaji, then, and ever since, has figured as the 
champion of religious freedom and power temporal to the 
Hindu races. It was for Sivaji, the "mountain rat," to throw 
off Muhammadan dominion in Western India and produce an 
era when the Hindu might worship his gods and daub his trees 
and corner stones, free of persecution. The Mahrattas in earlier 
times had fought with Islam for prize and for love of strife, 
but under Sivaji they fought as men fight for a cause. So it 
is little wonder that the "mountain rat," as the Mussalman 
contemptuously called him and his followers, is now the patron 
saint of Pan-Hinduism. 

How Sivaji and his successors fought the Moguls and des- 
troyed their empire, and how they formed a great military 
power, that watered its horses in the Ganges and the Indus, 
is a long story. Suffice it to say that by the middle of the 
eighteenth century the Mahratta confederacy had passed into 
the real control of the Peshwa, the hereditary minister to the 
descendants of royal Sivaji. 

The downfall of this great military confederacy, which held 
all India to ransom, did not, as some would believe, have its 
origin when the East India Company became a military power. 
Formidable an opponent as the English found it, its might was 
shaken once and for all by Ahmed Shah the Durani in the year 
1 76 1, at the world-famous battle of Panipat hard by the Black 
Mango Tree. With the apotheosis of Sivaji at the present day, 
and of Dundoo Punt the Nana, the adopted son of the last of 
the Peshwas, it is as well to remember where first the Mahrattas 
received the blow that probably changed much of modern 
Indian history. To follow this we must trace the decline of 
Mogul Empire from the death of Alumgir to the last flicker 
that once and for all died away before the thin red line on the 
Ridge at Delhi. 



THE BLACK MANGO TREE, 1761 17 

It is also well that we, when inclining our liberal ears to the 
demand of Pan-Hinduism, should remember in its outline the 
hopeless state of destitution and internecine war from which 
we rescued India. The break-up of the great Muhammadan 
Empire, and the wars of the barons that followed thereon, had 
during the several generations that elapsed before the coming 
of the English, reduced the country to a state far worse than 
ever Tilly and Wallenstein had produced in the Palatinate. 

In 1707 died Aurungzebe, the Emperor Alumgir (the holder 
of the world), the last of the real Great Moguls, in the fiftieth 
year of his reign and the ninetieth year of his age. He was 
succeeded for a few years by his elderly son, who, under the 
title of Shah Alum ruled as the Moguls used to rule, but dying 
in three years left the empire to ruin. In so vast an empire as 
that of the Moguls only a firm central authority could keep the 
great governors and nobles in order. With the death of Shah 
Alum the throne fell into the hands of various king-making 
factions. Four puppet emperors followed in quick succession, 
each in his turn falling by a miserable death to the violence of 
the warring factions. Then a son of Bahadur Shah's was placed 
on the throne as Muhammad Shah, and succeeded in retaining 
a nominal authority in the hands of his Wazirs for eight-and- 
twenty years. In the Asiatic form of chess, the piece that we 
know as the queen is called the Wazir. The idea of the puppet 
king, and the powerful hand behind the throne, so well exempli- 
fied in the failing years of the Mogul Empire, is typical of the 
fate of all the empires of the East, and explains to us the 
anomaly in the form of the game as we know it. 

During this reign the power of the Mahrattas under Bajee 
Rao I the great Peshwa, was yearly increasing, and their insolent 
claim to levy chouth, or one-fourth of the revenue from all 
lands, was actually sanctioned in certain cases by Imperial 
firman. It was the purpose of the Mahrattas to enforce this 
right over Hindustan proper, over Bengal and over the Dekhan 
also, by sheer force of arms and insolence, and to live at ease 
in their own fastnesses on the proceeds. 



l8 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

During the reign of Muhammad Shah on the peacock throne, 
came in 1738 the overwhelming invasion of Nadir Shah, the 
Persian Turk, with half the clansmen of Central Asia in his 
train. On the road to Delhi, he met and defeated the Imperial 
army, whereon the Emperor surrendered, was well received, 
and accompanied the invader to Delhi, where Nadir announced 
the money ransom he expected. A report getting about that 
Nadir had died, the Mogul troops turned on his followers in 
Delhi, and Nadir, enraged at this, ordered a general massacre. 
This continued for days, and was followed by an eight weeks' 
plunder, of which the people of Delhi speak to this day. 

The sack over, Nadir Shah reinstated the Emperor Muham- 
mad Shah, annexed the Afghan provinces, with Sind and 
Multan, and returned to Persia with his booty, which has been 
put by varying authorities at from six to thirty millions sterling, 
but was probably less than the lower figure. 

With the departure of Nadir Shah began again the struggles 
of the barons, under a central authority which had lost all 
power and prestige and wealth. India had several large Afghan 
colonies of ancient date, continually reinforced by fresh drafts 
from the hardy races of the North. The struggles were between 
the " Lords of Iran," viz. the Persian nobles, the " Lords of 
Turan," viz. those of Turkoman or Turanian origin, and the 
Afghans of Ghilzai, Lodi, and Abdali descent. 

Shortly before the death of Muhammad Shah, a fresh danger 
threatened his authority in the shape of Ahmed Shah the Abdali, 
who, having possessed himself of Nadir Shah's treasure on the 
death of that monarch, had founded the Durani Empire at 
Kabul and now aspired to be a prince and a ruler in Muham- 
madan India. The Abdali, or the, Ben-i-Israel as they call 
themselves, claim descent from one Kish or Kais, said to be 
eighteenth in descent from Saul, King of Israel, and had now 
assumed the name of Durani in place of Abdali by order of 
their leader Ahmed. This was all happening about the time 
of the last Stuart rising in England and Scotland — that is to 
say, is almost within reach of a link of two or three lives and 



THE BLACK MANGO TREE, 1761 19 

their memories. In 1748 Muhammad Shah was gathered to 
his fathers and succeeded by Ahmed Shah his son, and by 
this time Ahmed Shah Durani had made the Mogul governor 
of Lahore swear allegiance to him and not to the Mogul. 

On several previous occasions the Mahrattas had been called 
in by one or other of the warring Mogul factions, and Bajz 
Rao had conceived the idea of becoming Emperor of all India, 
and supplanting Islam. Soon after the accession of the new 
Emperor at Delhi they were called in to assist him subdue the 
rebellious Afghan colony in Rohilkund. In 1754, however, one 
of the Rohillas had deposed the new Emperor, creating another 
prince of the blood Emperor in his stead, with the world- 
compelling title that Aurungzebe dead fifty years had assumed, 
viz. Alumgir II. To Delhi then came Dattajee and Mahdajee 
Sindiah with Holkar, Mahrattas all, to recover the Punjab for 
the Delhi throne. Here we may see for the moment some 
guiding policy through the clouds of intrigue and civil war. 
The Mahrattas were for the Indian Empire, quite apart from 
who should control it, and to be rid of the Afghans was their 
first object. To Ahmed Shah Durani the maintenance of the 
faith was the object at heart, with no doubt some advantage 
for Ahmed Shah as well. His object was to restore the rule 
of Islam under a Mogul Emperor at Delhi, with the Punjab, 
however, a province of his own Empire of Kabul. No doubt 
he would remain the overlord and protector of Islam in India, 
with the Afghan colonists to watch his interests. Here it may 
be remarked that the King of Kabul of to-day bids fair to stand 
before the world as the patron of orthodox Islam. The Turk 
is no more a power, and the Khalifa at Rum 1 is no longer a 
mainspring to the believer. The present occupant of the 
Durani throne is the only independent ruler in Islam. 

However, be that as it may, down from the North came 

Ahmed Shah Durani in 1759, to drive the Mahrattas before him, 

and restore for the moment the fortunes of Alumgir II. Before, 

however, the Shah and his Afghans could secure the person 

1 i.e. The Sultan at Constantinople. 



20 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

of the Emperor, the latter had perished miserably at the hands 
of his Rohilla Wazir. A puppet successor was set up but never 
acknowledged, and as the rightful heir was a refugee in Bengal, 
the throne of the Mogul stood a-begging. Had the Mahrattas 
beaten the Afghans, there is little doubt that Dattajee would 
have proclaimed the Peshwa's son Emperor of India. But 
Dattajee was killed, and the Mahrattas driven from the Punjab 
and Delhi with heavy loss. The news of their defeat stirred 
the whole nation to make an immense effort to carry out Bajee 
Rao's scheme of the "Mahratta over all." An immense army 
was formed, to which flocked the flower of the Mahratta chivalry 
with many a Hindu ally. The which brings us to the stage of 
history that was to close on the ominous field of the Black 
Mango Tree. 

The Mahrattas of 1760 were very different in their organisa- 
tion from the hordes of mountain rats that Sivaji had led from 
his mountain fastnesses. With the power and wealth that the 
federation had acquired they had also copied the system and 
pomp of the Mogul state. Their chiefs moved with all the 
circumstance that had characterised the Mogul. Their Kazak 
hordes had developed into large bodies of organised horse. 
They had masses of trained artillery and infantry, imbued with 
some portion of the French discipline that Lally had intro- 
duced in Southern India and Bussy in the Dekhan. It was 
a mighty moving army that moved north from the Dekhan 
to win an empire. Shuda-sheo Rao Bhao, a cousin of Balajee 
the then Peshwa, commanded the forces of the twice-born. 
With the enlarging of the Mahratta state the power and leader- 
ship had passed to some extent from the rough half- Raj put 
Mahratta of the hills to the fair handsome Brahmin clans, who 
could hold their own with Mogul manners and procedure. 
But what they had gained in wisdom they had lost in stub- 
bornness. 

With "The Bhao, ,, as Shuda-sheo was always called, rode 
the flower of Maharasthra and all the appointments and luxurious 
fittings of the conquered Muhammadan powers of Southern 



THE BLACK MANGO TREE, 1761 21 

India. There was Mulhar Rao Holkar and all his lances, 
Mahdajee Rao Sindiah, illegitimate son of the reigning Sindiah, 
to become later the greatest of all Mahrattas save only Sivaji, 
Wiswas Rao, son of the Peshwa, Govind Panth of Bundelkand 
with his Bandelas, Suraj Mull the Jat chief from Bhurtpur 
and many another Rajput and Mahratta chieftain. With them 
marched also the mercenary corps of Ibrahim Khan Gardee, 
so called from having been commander of Bussy's French- 
trained bodyguard at Hyderabad. His corps consisted of 
10,000 men trained after the manner of the French, with gun- 
ners and light field-batteries. Twenty thousand well-disciplined 
horse and the Gardee corps formed the piece de resistance with 
the Grand Army, but thousands of light cavalry were also there. 
The great park of artillery was worthy of the Moguls themselves 
in their prime, heavy lumbering tiger-mouthed pieces drawn 
by long pairs of yoked bullocks, lighter pieces with short spans, 
field-guns after French models, light sher batchas 1 and hosts 
of shuter-nals or swivel-guns a-camel back. The Mahratta host 
numbered 55,000 horse, 15,000 disciplined foot, and 300 guns. 
With followers and all the evil entourage of oriental armies it 
numbered 300,000 souls that descended on the impoverished 
country like a flight of locusts, leaving starvation and misery 
among the wretched villages on its route. 

First to Delhi came the Bhao, which, according to custom, 
was stripped of such wealth as Nadir Shah and Ahmed the 
Durani had left it. Yet so did Delhi and the seat of the throne 
attract wealth that it is said that the Mahrattas found seven- 
teen lakhs to take away. Then, since the time was not yet ripe 
for declaring a Mahratta Empire, a prince of the blood, son 
of the rightful heir, was proclaimed Emperor and in his name 
the Bhao acted. 

All the while that these hosts were assembling, Ahmed Shah 
the Durani lay at his Indian headquarters of Anupshahr on 
the upper Ganges organising the Afghan colonists and the forces 
of Islam generally. Early in the autumn he left his cantonment 

1 Lion's whelps. 



22 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

and crossed the Jumna, and the Bhao moved out from Delhi 
to the field of Panipat, already the historic battlefield of Northern 
India, and entrenched the whole of his force round the town 
of that name. Marching up the Jumna to Panipat, the Mahrattas 
had drawn first blood by falling on an Afghan detachment, 
and a little later the Afghans drove a portion of the Hindus, 
who had moved afield, back into their entrenchment at Panipat 
with heavy loss. Then began that curious wait and watch to 
seize the better grip, after the manner of wrestlers, that is so 
characteristic of Asiatic warfare. It was the same in the pre- 
Napoleonic wars of the Continent. Two vast armies would sit 
and watch each other and wait an opportunity instead of making 
that same for itself, as did the Master. 



The Disastrous Battle 

The accounts to hand of the battle itself are numerous and 
authentic. Grant Duff, the historian of the Mahrattas, himself 
knew several of them who had been there. The account given 
by Kashi Punt, one of the secretaries in the Afghan camp, is 
full of detail. As regards the appearance of the troops, those 
who saw the procession at His Majesty's state entry into Delhi 
in 191 1 will have seen retainers armed and dressed as were 
the rival armies of Panipat. Some of the armour and weapons 
carried were no doubt the identical accoutrements worn 
there. 

Now it has been already mentioned that what the Mahrattas 
of 1760 had acquired in the matter of pomp and appearance 
they had lost in the way of rough-and-tumble soldiering talent 
and guerrilla accomplishments. It is ever thus with the wilder 
folk. The regular Afghan army created by Shere Ali was ridden 
over by the British when it stood to them at Charasiab. A 
thousand Ghilzais on the mountain-side, each a law unto him- 
self, were far more dangerous than five times that number of 
regular soldiers. The same applies to the Dutch in South 
Africa. The old veldt Dutch were a harder nut to crack than 



THE BLACK MANGO TREE, 1761 23 

your tame Dutchman with Krupp guns to hamper him. At 
any rate, the great moving columns of infantry and the lumber- 
ing yoke of the 40-pounder gun trains did not appeal to the 
older and wiser men as the system that had brought success 
to the Mahrattas in the past. It was the eternal harassing, the 
ceaseless sting and hover, that had made them so indefeasible 
to the heavier Mogul hosts. Suraj Mull the Jat chief and 
Holkar himself had urged this on the Bhao, but the latter, 
enamoured of the borrowed trappings of the Mogul, had elected 
to continue on his ponderous way. 

So for want of a desire to close, and disdainful of ancestral 
tactics, the Mahratta host sank into inertia in their entrench- 
ments at Panipat. Out in front of the two armies champions 
met in single combat, and the soldiery looked on and cheered. 
But all the while the Rohilla horse usurped the traditional 
Mahratta functions, and cut off the mighty host of the latter 
from the resources of the country round, even as Holkar would 
have served them. At last it came about that waiting for the 
opportunity that they would not make, the Mahrattas found 
themselves at the end of two months with their supplies run 
dry. 

We may here pause and look at this great standing camp. 
In the centre near the town, the huge embroidered tents and 
shamianas of the Bhao and his immediate following. Scattered 
round the considerable area occupied lay the tents and banners 
of the various great chiefs, the great Bhagwan Jhanda, the 
Hindu flag, wrapping its staff in front of the Bhao's camp. 
Close to the Bhao was the main park of artillery, big brass 
guns on lumbering teakwood carriages, with great heavy tum- 
brils alongside, behind the chiefs' camps the picket lines of 
their horsed retainers, whose green and red saddles would be 
lying behind their horses. The long lances would be piled 
in clumps behind the horses, while the troopers rested close 
to the rear picket pegs. The camp of the Gardees would present 
a more regular appearance with the arms piled after the French 
fashion, each commandant flying his camp colour. In every 



24 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

backyard in the town and outlying hamlets would be crowded 
the henna-dyed horses of the irregular cavalry, and their bag- 
gage attendants, tethered with leather thongs, blue beads round 
their necks, and the print of a henna-dipped hand on the hind- 
quarters, ready to squeal and bite at the first opportunity. 
Behind the troops would be the long bazaars, for an Eastern 
army feeds itself from the booths of the camp sutlers, who 
follow an army at their will, and whose stocks were carried 
and replenished from the pack-bullock convoys of the Brinjaras 
— that race of hereditary carriers, with whom the wise Arthur 
Wellesley concluded a contract based on mutual confidence 
when he took the field against the Mahratta forty years later. 
Without this travelling carrier race admirably suited for carry- 
ing the requirements of the vast armies of the day, the long 
moves of troops and followers across the length and breadth 
of India would have been impossible. In the long bivouacked 
bazaars would be the meat sellers, the garin merchants, sweet- 
meat vendors, jewellers, parched grain and kabab sellers, 
tobacconists, spirit sellers, tinkers, fiddlers, dancing girls, 
Delilah in all her forms, mendicants, holy men, friars, and half 
the bad characters of the countryside, all kept within some 
semblance of order by the Bazaar Choudri. 

If you would picture such a party leaving camp, you must 
go to the mouth of the Gomal Pass on the border of Waziristan 
in April, where, to this day, you will see the Ghilzai clans 
returning to Afghanistan for the summer, armed to the teeth 
and moving off in succession to tuck of drum under control 
of an official corresponding to the bazaar master of a Mogul 
or Mahratta campo. With them you will see their women and 
children, their grain sellers and their donkeys and pack bul- 
locks, their camels and their followers crowding up the passes 
in controlled disorder. 

It will be well imagined how such an army with such a 
following ate up the country-side, as it moved, and stripped 
bare the environment of a permanent halt, and how essential 
a free access for the Brinjara convoys would be. When the 




Akbar Khan : The Son of Dost Muhammad 
Our principal opponent in 1841-2 



[Face page 24 



THE BLACK MANGO TREE, 1761 25 

British clung to the ridge at Delhi, the whole country-side fed 
them. In the days of the break-up of the Mogul Empire no 
one would feed anybody except by force of arms, and there 
were no free markets in Panipat to which the villagers flocked 
with their produce. So it will be realised how this multitude 
soon came to its last supply of grain. For not only did the 
fighting troops and their horses eat their fill, but this moving 
town of shops meant 200,000 followers to the 100,000 com- 
batants of all kinds. These followers included many of the 
families of the men, for half the country-side in those days 
lived a wandering life. Beside the camels and the bullock 
droves and the elephants would tramp the women of the syces 
and other menials with their children, un qui marche y un qui 
tette y un qui vient ! — a strange mixture of peace and war, while 
the ladies of the leaders' families, and those who battled for 
their own hand, rode in little covered bullock-carts, peeping 
from between the crimson curtains, or swayed in the lacquered 
camel khajawahs. 1 

So it came about that the great expedition, to put an end 
to the rule of Islam and the Mussulman nobles, was in a bad 
plight, and by the middle of January the bazaar masters reported 
that there was no more food in camp at all. The Bhao, after 
a midnight council, sent a last appeal to some of the leaders 
in the opposite camp, whom he hoped yet might join him, and 
resolved to sally forth to fight for his life. It was in no spirit 
of conquest that the members of the Hindu confederacy mus- 
tered their soldiers on the morning of January 17, 1761. The 
last rations had been eaten at daybreak, and the troops formed 
with all the signs of despair, their faces smeared with ashes, 
their turbans dishevelled, and their hearts steeled for death 
but not for victory, which is a poor spirit to arm with, on a 
cold morning. We may perhaps here glean some glimpse of a 
the future prospects for Pan-Hinduism as a world-power. At 
any rate all accounts agree as to the mental state of the Mahrattas 
and their allies. 

1 Panniers. 



26 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

Their muster consisted of perhaps 30,000 good troops and 
200 guns of all sorts. Formed in a line of masses, with the 
left thrown forward, they emerged from their entrenchments 
and moved towards the Afghans. Ibrahim Khan and his 
Gardee corps, with their guns, formed this leading left. In the 
centre was the Bhao with his own troops, and the cavalry of 
Sindia and Holkar were on the right. 

Ahmed Shah, a man of surprising activity and alertness, had 
been on the watch all night and had just lain down, when the 
Mahratta advance was reported. A short reconnaissance showed 
that the alarm was true enough, and he at once marshalled his 
hosts. His main forces consisted of some 28,000 Afghan horse- 
men on heavy Turkoman horses (heavy, that is, compared with 
the Mahratta garron) wearing mail, and a similar number of 
Rohilla horse — that is to say, Afghan colonists of Hindustan, 
from Rohilkhund and other similar centres. His foot soldiery 
consisted of some 38,000 Hindustani infantry, matchlock-men 
and pikes, with a total of 80 guns. The Rohillas faced Holkar 
and Sindiah and also held part of the centre next to a mass of 
Afghan cavalry. Two brigades of Persian cavalry faced the 
Gardees and a large body of Afghans were in reserve on each 
flank. The Mahrattas came on with a murmur of Hur Huree, 
Hur Huree, rising to their war-cry of Hur Hur Mahadeo ! — the 
Afghans waiting to receive their attack. At first the disciplined 
array of Ibrahim Khan drove asunder the Persian ranks and 
rent a Rohilla corps, so that 3,000 are said to have been slain 
by them in the first attack, and the courage and temper of the 
Hindus rose and the masses joined contact on all sides. The 
great Bhagwan Jhanda swayed and moved forward, as the loud 
cries of Hur Hur Mahadeo showed that the twice-born were 
a-top the crest of battle. Mass after mass of Afghans thundered 
into the fray, and the great guns seemed to be firing on friend 
and foe alike. ' Allah Ho Akhbar ! Din Din ! Fatteh Muham- 
mad! 1 yelled the men of Islam, and strove to get at the great 
Hindu banner by the Black Mango Tree, as the Normans strove 
1 " God is Almighty ! The Faith ! The Faith ! Victory to Muhammad 1" 



THE BLACK MANGO TREE, 1761 27 

for the Standard of England by the Hoar Apple-tree on Telham 
Down and Saintlache. 

Then, after varying fortune for three furious hours, Ahmed 
Shah, with an eye trained to Grand 'guerre ', loosed his great 
reserve divisions of heavy Afghan horse, to ride through and 
through the lighter cavalry of Hindustan and the Dekhan. 
For three hours had the Gardee corps on the Mahratta left 
carried all before them, but within an hour of the launch of 
the Afghan reserves, the whole of the Hindu confederacy 
was broken beyond recovery. Here and there knots of 
the Gardees held their own in squares and clumps, but for 
the most part the field was nothing but a slaughter of the 
flying, and prisoners, and of men too broken even to fight 
for life. Fierce in the battle, the Afghan spared none in his 
hour of victory; man, woman, and child, priest and leader, 
spearman and water-carrier, were overwhelmed in one vast 
holocaust. 

Grant Duff records that 200,000 soldiers and followers from 
the hosts of the Bhao were slain. The Bhao, committing his 
family to the care of Holkar, had turned his Dekhani charger 
and galloped from the field, to die unknown, till his headless 
trunk was found later. Wiswas Rao, the Peshwa's nephew, was 
slain, Jankojee Sindiah was taken captive and slain next day; 
Mahdajee Sindiah escaped sore wounded, after a long ride with 
the Afghans close behind. The gallant Ibrahim Gardee fell 
into the enemy's hands wounded and was put to death, and 
lesser chiefs innumerable shared the same fate. Never had the 
Mahrattas and their allies fallen into such a disaster; the flower 
of every clan perished with their chiefs, and mourning was 
spread into every family of note and every mountain village of 
the Western Ghats. 

Away on the banks of the Nerbudda the Peshwa, who had 
heard of the leaguer of Panipat, was pushing north with rein- 
forcements, when to him came a cossid (a mounted messenger) 
from a banker who had accompanied the army of the Bhao. 
And the message he bore ran ' Two pearls have been dissolved, 



28 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

twenty-seven gold mohurs have been lost, and of the silver and 
copper the total cannot be cast up.' 

Soon followed the scattered fugitives, and grief and despair 
took possession of the Peshwa's army. Sadly he broke up his 
camp and fell back on Poona, to die of a broken heart in the 
following year. It was the news of Flodden Field over again. 
From every upland homestead, and from every bastioned village 
in the Dekhan and Malwa, the youth of Maharasthra had joined 
the squadrons of the Bhao. From the sun-scorched hills of 
Rajasthan to the green slopes and woods of the Western Ghats 
arose the sound of mourning. Blessed are the twice-born who 
burn on the pyre, but lost for ever were the hundred thousand 
souls whose bodies lay headless on the field of Panipat, unburied 
and unburnt. 

Kashi Punt relates that of the followers the younger women 
and children were carried off by the victors, and that tens of 
thousands of male prisoners, fighting-men and followers, were 
formed into lines, given parched grain and some water, and 
then beheaded for the glory of God and His prophet. During 
the long years of his life, in which he was to become so famous 
Mahdajee Sindiah would ever imagine that he heard the hammer 
of the hoofs and the broken panting of his Afghan pursuer's 
horse. For miles had Sindiah been pursued by 'Lutf Ullah 
Populzai, a swinefed reiver of the North.' The escape of Sindiah, 
with all the colour of the battle is splendidly portrayed in Mr. 
Rudyard Kipling's ' With Scindiah to Delhi ' ; especially is 
the supposed treachery of Mulhar Rao Holkar dwelt on, who 
men say failed to bring his 30,000 horses into the fray with any 
effect, in spite of constant and imploring messages from the Bhao. 

'Ho Anand Rao Nimbulkar ride! Get aid of Mulhar Rao.' 

But Holkar's horse were flying and our chiefest chiefs were cold, 
And life a flame among us leapt the long lean Northern knife. 

Such was the third and the last great battle of Panipat, when 
the sons of the Prophet fought the twice-born for dominion 



THE BLACK MANGO TREE, 1761 29 

in Hindustan which was to pass from either. Under the guiding 
hand and wise statecraft of Mahdajee Sindiah, the Mahratta was 
again to come to great power, but always under the nominal 
rule of the Great Mogul, whom they held as puppet, till Generals 
Arthur Wellesley and Gerald Lake brought the house of cards 
to the ground at Assaye and Laswari, more than forty years 
after the stricken field of Panipat. During those forty years the 
Mahrattas and the English were ever quarrelling, and though 
the English brought them low, the great blow to their supremacy 
was struck when the flower of their chivalry lay dead on the 
plains by the Black Mango Tree at the hands of Ahmed Shah 
the Durani. 

How Sindiah 'the PateV came to be the power behind the 
throne for so many years, and to hold all the threads of peace 
and war and policy in his wise hands, is a story too long to be 
told as a sequel to the tragedy at Panipat. Or how he and 
De Boigne, the Savoyard, formed an army that none in Hin- 
dustan, saving always the English, could face, and which so 
long as Sindiah lived was never allowed to clash with these same 
English — that too is a story in itself. When Sindiah died, the 
ship of state, as he had conceived it, went crashing on the 
rocks, and no one had nous enough to steer it off. The new 
Sindiah, the Peshwa, Holkar the Bonsla, all the great chiefs of 
the confederacy bit the dust in succession, and their French- 
trained armies fell, as De Boigne always knew they must, before 
the red-coat sepoys of the English and their hard-bitten 
European soldiery. The poor old puppet of Delhi, blind Shah 
Alum, became a British pensioner, and the Mogul was never 
again to form a nominal rallying-point for the princes of India 
save only for the instinct of the Imperial tradition which brought 
the mutinous soldiery of '57 once again to the rose-red palace 
at Delhi for a few months of dreams and madness. And behind 
the English in this matter of the Mahrattas we may ever see 
the ghost of Ahmed Shah the Durani Emperor of Kabul. 

As the sound of his northern pursuer's horse rang ever in 
Sindiah's memory, so for many generations the fear of the 



30 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

invading North lay on India; and now that India forgets, and 
murmurs ever at an alien's yoke, be it never so benevolent, it 
is well that this same India should remember that this same 
North still stands, hungry and fierce and poor, waiting for the 
day when the British frontier guard like the Legions on Hadrian's 
wall shall mount for the last time, and once again leave bare 
the road to the Bikaneer and the wealth of Hindustan. The 
frontier hills still dream of it as Sir Alfred Lyall makes the 
old Pindari dream. 

' My father was an Afghan and came from Kandahar, 
He rode with Nawab Amir Khan in the old Mahratta War; 
From the Dekhan to the Himalay five hundred of our clan, 
They asked no leave of prince or chief as they swept through 
Hindostan.' 



Ill 

LORD LAKE'S CAMPAIGNS 

i. The Battle of Delhi, 1803 

The opening of the nineteenth century brings India to the time 
when the British perforce came to succeed to the Turkish overlord- 
ship of India, by way of astounding drama. 

There is an old medal, inscribed "to the Army of India " — 
so old that the youngest soldier to receive it must have attended 
his last muster, many a year past — which, among many clasps 
earned under Lake and Arthur Wellesley, Ouchterlony, David 
Baird, and Combermere, bears two that tell a tale long forgotten 
by most men — viz. — " Battle of Delhi," and " Defence of Delhi." 

Over a hundred years ago, when Richard Colley Wellesley, 
Lord Mornington, and later the Marquis Wellesley, was 
Governor-General in India, and his two brothers in the land 
with him, the Mahrattas were a power in the land so great that 
the same conclusion had forced itself on his mind, as had 
dawned on the chiefs of that confederacy. There could not be 
two kings in Brentford, and British and Mahrattas could not 
share Hindustan with each other, one would have to be master. 
Tippu Sultan and Hyder Ali's legacy of power had been 
broken for ever, and now only the Mahratta peril remained. 
Chief of the confederacy as regards power, was Sindiah, with 
an enormous army trained on European lines, by the great 
De Boigne, aided by Perron and many a lesser French or Italian 
adventurer. This army was exceedingly well equipped and 
found, and armed with guns cast by Scotch Sangster at his 
foundry at Agra. 

31 



32 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

For years England had been at war with France, and the 
peace of Amiens was looked on as a temporary respite at best. 
Napoleon had cast envious eyes on India, had actually persuaded 
Russia to start an overland expedition against that country, 
had endeavoured to hold Egypt to make his move possible, and 
was even now said to be closeted with De Boigne, who had 
left Sindiah's service in 1798. French influence was very 
strong in the Mahratta Confederacy, Sindiah's army of regular 
soldiers consisting of 58 battalions and 400 guns, with 300 
European officers, of whom 260 were foreigners, mostly French, 
while the armies of the other Mahratta chiefs were scarcely 
less formidable. The Doab, the country between the Ganges 
and the Jumna, had been assigned to De Boigne for the upkeep 
of his Frenchified army, and this district was known as "the 
French State." In 1798 Perron assumed command of Sindiah's 
army, in place of De Boigne, and moved up to take possession 
of this province, and collect its revenues, overcoming the 
resistance of local governors, and actually securing the person 
of the Great Mogul, the miserable blind Shah Alam, who still 
claimed titular authority in Hindustan, and in whose name 
Sindiah and Perron now issued edicts. 

In 1803, the Governor- General decided that he would take 
the initiative in a conflict daily growing more imminent, resolving 
to deal a staggering blow to the Mahrattas, and to get possession 
of the person of the Mogul, to occupy Delhi and Agra and 
connect them with a chain of posts, to annex Bundelcund, and 
compel all states west of the Jumna to enter into alliance with 
the British, under his subsidiary system. Another equally 
important object, to which General Arthur Wellesley was to 
contribute in alliance with the Peshwa, after defeating Sindiah 
and the Bhonsla in the Dekhan, was, with the assistance of the 
Bombay Government, to cut off the Mahrattas from the sea, 
and all hope of further French assistance. Without going deeper 
into the politics of the hour, and Lord Mornington's aims and 
objects, it will suffice to say that in the Deccan, General Wellesley 
and Colonel Stephenson were preparing for their share, that 



LORD LAKE S CAMPAIGNS 33 

2,500 men were assembling at Allahabad to invade Bundelcund, 
while 10,500 men were collected at Cawnpore, under General 
Lake, to smash Perron at Delhi, and rescue the Mogul from 
French and Mahratta hands. The Great Mogul, the blind and 
wretched Shah Alam, grandson of Jehangir, and representative 
of the House of Timur, was as much a puppet in Mahratta 
hands, as was Bahadur Shah in ours before the Mutiny. 

It was, therefore, in accordance with the above plans that 
General Gerald Lake found himself on the sultry morning of 
the nth September, 1803, after a march of eighteen miles, on the 
banks of the river Hindun, and only six miles from Delhi ; even 
as did, fifty-four years later, General Archdale Wilson, at the 
head of the Meerut Division, before striking the first real blow 
to show that the masters had not disappeared from the land. 

General Lake's force consisted of 200 European artillerymen, 
three regiments of the King's dragoons, five native cavalry 
regiments, H.M.'s 76th foot, and eleven battalions of sepoys, 
by no means too grand a force for the purpose in hand, and 
one which already had had plenty to do en route, including 
the daring storm of the fortress of Alighar. 

Eighteen miles in September in Northern India is no light 
march, and it was a weary army that forded the Hindun river 
that morning in early autumn, H.M.'s 76th leading, in round 
felt hats like an elderly gentleman's bowler, with feathers 
curling round the crown, wearing scarlet jackets, white trousers, 
and high black splatterdashes, dusty and perspiring, yet ready 
enough to answer to the roll and squeal to the drums and fifes, 
that lifted them out of the river. Away to the north the rose- 
red towers of the Imperial palace and the white dome of the 
Jumna Musjid, shimmered amid the trees, in the midday 
haze, exactly as they did centuries before, as they did from 
the Meerut road to Archdale Wilson's Carbineers and Rifles, 
and as they will centuries hence — yesterday, to-day, and for 
ever — according to the law of the unchanging East. 

While the army slowly swings over the river, the General 
and some of his staff have ridden on to the head of the camping 



34 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

ground, and stand on a knoll by a goojar's 1 hut, some six furlongs 
beyond the ford. Alone with young Carmichael Smith, his 
field engineer, in front of the party, stands the General, peering 
into the haze towards Delhi, anon tapping the ground thought- 
fully with his gold-headed cane, one flap of his ample cocked 
hat turned down to shade his eyes, as our officers in South 
Africa cocked their felt-hats a hundred years later. 

Below him the brigade-majors and camp adjutants were 
busy marking out the camp, while the army filed into bivouac, 
eager for shade and rest, since enemy there seemed none, and 
fighting was denied them. Straight for the front of the camp 
swung the 76th, their white smalls and gambadoes dripping 
river water, drums and fifes sounding high the defiant quick 
step, for all the world to hear. In column on either side the 
sepoy battalions, in scarlet coatees also, with short white 
drawers and bare brown legs, are forming up and piling their 
fusils. The Horse Artillery troop, only raised a year ago, 
rattles into camp from the flank it has been guarding, its bronze 
3 -pounders leaping to every stone and tussock, the gunners 
looking comfortable enough in their old English dragoon 
helmets. Out of the river bed, the lumbering bullock trains 
of the Foot Artillery creak and grunt, as they heave the heavy 
twelves through the sand. Behind, in clouds of dust, elephants 
and bullock hackeries struggle with the baggage of the army, 
in the descent to the ford, while refractory camels bubble, 
and sweating commissaries swear. 

So also swore General Lake on his hillock near by, at the 
lack of information, from his spies and cavalry patrols, and 
the mental fog that enveloped the enemy's whereabouts and 
intentions. Perron, he knew, had resigned his command, and 
one Louis Berquien commanded in his stead the 17,000 regulars 
that composed his brigades. That these were round about 
Delhi the General knew, and also had expected to find them 
posted outside that city, so the absence of either enemy or 
information exasperated him greatly, the more so that the 

1 Grazier 



Lord lake's campaigns 35 

waving second crops, and high pampas grass, hid from his 
view the plain between him and Delhi, and he visited his dis- 
pleasure, as generals will, on some of his staff, who certainly 
ought to have found out something for him. It was naturally 
his D.A.Q.M.G. who was specially pitched into by his irate 
general, "if he heard nothing by noon, he would take out 
the cavalry and reconnoitre for himself, by George! and not 

be at the mercy of a d d incompetent Staff, as he was at 

Castlebar, by gad!" 

In the meanwhile, as the general swore and fingered his 
spy-glass, the infantry outposts were threading their way to 
the low ridge, half a mile north of the camp, hitherto held 
by dragoon vedettes. In the camp itself tents were rising, 
and camp fires kindling, over which the patient sepoy 
crouched crooning the old philosophic chant of the Army in 
India. 

" Kabbi sukh aur kabbi dukh, " Sometimes pleasure and some- 
times pain, 
Angrez ka naukar." The servant of the English." 

Everything pointed to a quiet afternoon for the tired army, 
and the General on the hillock, close shaven and red com- 
plexioned, his grey unpowdered hair en queue, unbuttoned 
his scarlet laced jacket, loosened his black silk neck scarf, as 
well he might on a September day in the plains, and thought 
kindly of lunch before starting his reconnaissance, as he turned 
to call his orderly and horse. Young Carmichael Smith at his 
side, already renowned for daring, resource, and every soldierly 
quality, had not ceased for an instant to peer into the haze, 
and suddenly shouted, "There they are, sir, by God! there 
they are!" pointing to the waving pampas grass in front. 
Hardly had he spoken when a white jet of smoke sprayed out 
from the pampas, and a round shot screamed shrill over the 
outposts, followed by the answering sputter of their muskets. 
The general is all afire at once, as he settles into his saddle, 
shouting orders to his staff to get the force under arms, and 



36 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

send the cavalry to join him at the picquets, then canters off 
himself to reconnoitre, carrying off with him two belated 
squadrons of horse from the right flank, who have been watering 
in the Hindun below; up past the outposts now hastily entrench- 
ing themselves, the general pushes with his two native squadrons, 
and soon finds that a strong force is in front of him, probably 
M. Louis himself, and that nothing can be done till the rest 
of the cavalry arrive. An aide-de-camp is sent galloping back 
to hurry them up and order the whole force, save the picquets 
and one battalion of Sepoys left as camp guard, to move at 
once to the front. 

Despite their march of eighteen miles, and the rising thermo- 
meter, fatigue has left the troops with the first round shot, 
belts, pouches, and scarlet jackets are hastily re-assumed, and 
within half an hour the Infantry in columns swing out to the 
front, and the twenty yoke of the artillery trains heave the 
heavy nines and twelves from the sand they have settled in. 
The cavalry, British dragoons and Rajput troopers, have 
already trotted away to join their fiery general — Lucky Lake, 
as they called him since the storming of Alighar — the galloper 
guns and Horse Artillery go bounding after them, as each 
team can be got ready. 

No sooner does his cavalry arrive, than Lake pressed forward 
through the crops and waving grass, driving in the Mahratta 
light horse, who are scattered in it, to find, as he had expected, 
the whole of Louis Berquien's force, with guns untold, drawn 
up and entrenched, athwart the road to Delhi, not a mile from 
his own outposts, and with both flanks securely resting on 
marshy ground to boot! "Here was a pretty kettle of fish, 
by gad, thanks to those rascally dragoons, and their careless 
scouting; a pretty pass, for an army to be surprised at dinner 
time after years of active service !" 

The fire that opened on the General's party was hot and 
heavy, and saddles were emptying apace, his own horse being 
killed under him, something had to be done, and that soon, 
no turning movement was possible, and even British bayonets 



lord lake's campaigns 37 

could hardly be flung straight at those guns. "The more we 
look, the less we shall like it," said Lake, with a chuckle, as 
he thought of a trick he'd played the French when a lad near 
Ticonderoga. 

Lake had now got his cavalry some 600 yards from the 
enemy's guns half hidden by the crops, and heard that their 
right rested on the Jumna itself, so, as at this moment his 
D.A.Q.M.G. arrived to say that the Infantry were a short 
half-mile behind, he decided to send his cavalry forward in 
line of squadrons, with orders that directly the enemy fired, 
they should at once wheel about and retire as if in confusion, 
in the hope that the enemy would follow. The ruse had the 
desired effect. The impetuous Mahrattas believing that the 
British were flying, poured out in pursuit, even bringing on 
their guns — pressing forward they reached the edge of the 
pampas grass, only to see the apparently retiring dragoons, 
pass quietly through the intervals of scarlet clad columns of 
infantry a hundred yards ahead. 

No time to reconsider a movement this, and before Louis 
Berquien and his chiefs could grasp the situation, the British 
were advancing at the double, with fixed bayonets, the General 
at their head, halting for a second to fire a volley when they 
saw the whites of their enemies' eyes, and then fair and square 
into the brown, sturdy Briton and stalwart Poorbiah, bayonet 
and tulwar, Brown Bess to match-lock and fusil, sabre twanging 
to locking ring, till the army of M. Louis broke with a wail 
of sorrow, and fled for the fords and bridges of the Jumna, or 
to the wide Doab stretching East and West, anywhere from 
those straight shooting muskets, pitiless sabres, and uncom- 
promising bayonets. 

Tough old Lake in the thick of the charge, sees no need 
to further hulloa his infantry on, and disengages, that he may 
launch his cavalry, who are straining at the leash hard on the 
heels of the bayonet charge, and who at his word gallop after 
the broken Mahrattas. Of actual fighting there is little left 
to do, save where here and there a handful of Pathans, some 



38 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

Rajput sirdars, or a band of Arab Vilayaties 1 sell their lives 
for sheer love of battle. Many of the Mahrattas were drowned 
in the Jumna, two battalions in reserve by the Delhi Ghat 
were dispersed, and a battery captured. All the artillery and 
all the impedimenta of Louis Berquien's army fell into our 
hands, camels, palanquins, shamianahs, bullock carts, tumbrils 
of powder, huge brass cannon on lumbering, solid wheels, 
cast in Sindiah's arsenal at Gwalior, dragon-mouthed pieces 
contributed by Baroda, and light handy field pieces from Scotch 
Sangster's Agra foundry. Sixty-eight pieces of cannon and 
two tumbrils of treasure were captured, and the Mahratta 
casualties are placed at 3,000, which however is probably 
exaggerated. 

Following up his dragoons, Lake with his infantry columns 
breasted the low rise separating him from the Jumna, and 
found the roofs of the Imperial City, as a panorama through 
the haze, before him. He pitched his camp on the banks of 
the river, and from the 12th to the 17th his force was engaged 
in the crossing. On the 14th, General Louis Berquien, and four 
other French officers, surrendered to the Commander-in-Chief. 
On the 1 6th the latter visited Shah Alum the Mogul, whom 
he found in tattered state, surrounded by vast crowds assembled 
to witness his formal delivery from the French. The blind 
Emperor is said to have evinced much pleasure in his emanci- 
pation, which really, however, amounted to little more than 
a secured pension, and much empty ceremony. He showed 
his satisfaction, however, by conferring a sonorous Persian 
title, the second in his Empire, on the general. 

From the 16th September, 1803, Delhi the Mogul capital be- 
came a British possession, and Lake, eager to be after Sindiah, 
established a small garrison there, and appointed Lieut.- Colonel 
David Ochterlony as Resident, before marching away to the 
capture of Agra, the crowning victory at Laswari, and his ever 
famous cavalry chases after Holkar through the Doab, finally 

1 Foreigners. The good word " Blighty " of the World War, derived 
from the British soldier in India using it for " Home." 



LORD LAKE S CAMPAIGNS 39 

running against such a wall at Bhurtpur, as even his hard 
head could not crack. 

Such was the first battle of Delhi when the total British loss 
was 485, of which H.M. 76th regiment had, as usual, a large 
share, but hardly had Colonel Ochterlony and his garrison 
settled into their new quarters, than they were called on to 
fight for their lives against another of the Mahratta fraternity, 
and fight the Third Mahratta War. (p. 40.) 

Jeswunt Rao Holkar, Maharajah of Indore, broke with the 
British for reasons many and various, and in July and August, 
1804, succeeded in practically annihilating a force under Colonel 
Monson, then early in October, finding himself at Muttra face 
to face with an avenging army under Lake, resolved to steal 
a march on him. Directing his infantry and guns due north, 
he encamped with his cavalry within striking distance of Lake, 
played with him, and then whirled away after his infantry, 
with the intention of falling on the small garrison of Delhi, 
and obtaining the person of the Mogul. On the 8th of October 
Holkar's infantry arrived before Delhi, and at once opened a 
heavy cannonade on the city. David Ochterlony, the Resident, 
and Lieut. -Colonel Burn, the military commandant, had but 
half a battalion of Native Infantry and a small corps of irregular 
levies to hold the immense enceinte, the crumbling works of 
a Portuguese engineer, of the Imperial city. Every man was 
disposed along the walls, and now commenced one of the 
most stubborn defences in our annals, when a circumference 
of ten miles was held for nine days, against odds more than 
formidable to even an Anglo-Indian Army. On the 9th the 
enemy erected a breaching battery, and speedily began to 
batter a curtain about its defenders' ears, whereon 200 sepoys 
and 150 irregulars, under Lieutenant Rose, sallied forth, spiked 
those big guns, and wrecked the besiegers' battery. However, 
weight of metal was too much for the British, and by the 12th 
two more breaches had been made, and on the 14th, under a 
cannonade from every Mahratta piece, the enemy attacked in 
force, with grenade and scaling ladder, only to be hurled back 



40 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

by the now wearied garrison. In the evening more guns were 
brought up, but disheartened by the repulse, and by the news 
of Lake's approach, Holkar disappeared in the night as rapidly 
as he had come. 

From the 14th October, 1804, till the gathering cloud on 
the Meerut road, on that weird morning in May, 1857, the 
Imperial city of Delhi, with its slippered pantaloons of sonorous 
title and its pitiful mock court, intrigues and vice, was free 
of battle and alarms. The blowing up of the magazine, and 
the endurance on the Ridge, were worthy sequels to that stubborn 
defence of a century ago. 

11. Lake's Pursuit of Holkar 1 

Perhaps one of the most important, and certainly the most 
vigorous, of British cavalry campaigns on record is General 
Lake's pursuit of Holkar in the Third Mahratta War after the 
defence and relief of Delhi the next year (1804). Three regiments 
of H.M. Light Dragoons and three of Native Cavalry, under 
the personal leading of General Gerald Lake, then Commander- 
in-Chief in India, pursued that freebooting Mahratta and his 
celebrated horse day after day, covering 350 miles, of which 
the last stage was a twenty-one mile march, followed by a 
thirty-five mile night raid on Holkar's camp, and a further 
pursuit of twelve miles, making sixty-eight miles in twenty-six 
hours. 

The episode is one worth remembering for the glory of the 
achievement as well as for the lessons to be learned, in which 
the old moral of "push" stands out from it, as it stands out 
in every war since the world began. 

It is important, if we would get the perspective of this period 
right, that we should realise that there occurred at the beginning 
of the nineteenth century two entirely distinct Mahratta wars, 
in quick succession. The first was the Second Mahratta 
War, fought against Sindiah, of which the battle of Delhi just 

1 Memoirs of the War in India, by William Thorn, 25th Lt. Dns., 181 8. 



LORD LAKE'S CAMPAIGNS 41 

described was a notable incident. This war concluded in 1803 
with a peace and treaty with Sindiah. 

Hardly had the troops gone into summer quarters when 
Holkar, who had held aloof till bis enemy, Sindiah, was defeated, 
must needs commence what is known as the "Third Mahratta 
War," against Holkar and his ally of Bhurtpur. 

The Grand Army had gone into cantonments for the rains 
of 1804, many of the troops billeted in the large Muhammadan 
tombs round Agra, and General Lake had to reassemble his 
army and his transport. Early in the autumn, Holkar, exulting 
in the destruction of Colonel Monson's force, appeared before 
Muttra with 90,000 men, and leaving his horse to conceal his 
movements and watch General Lake, he doubled on his course 
and unexpectedly appeared before the walls of Delhi on October 
7th as just described. 

As soon as he heard of Holkar's move General Lake followed 
in pursuit, and arrived at Delhi in time to save the garrison. 
Holkar, disappointed of his object, sent his infantry, and 
heavy artillery south again to join the Bhurtpur rajah, and 
himself, in true Mahratta fashion, started on a raiding expedition 
through the British Doab, at the head of all his mounted troops. 
If he could not beat the British in the open, it should be fire 
and sword, rape and torture, and loot in every British province 
he could get at. 

No sooner had Lake information of Holkar's move than he, 
too, divided his force. Major- General Fraser, with the infantry, 
artillery, and two regiments of Native Cavalry, was sent 
after the Mahratta infantry, and with him went the famous 
76th Foot. Up to now this regiment had always been 
with the General, and had borne the brunt of all his battles. 
As Prince Kraft would call for his boots and his pipe and his 
corps artillery, so when a hill fortress was to be stormed, or 
an unwavering line of guns and infantry to be charged, General 
Lake would order the 76th to the front. 



42 vignettes from indian wars 

The Pursuit 

It was now that the famous pursuit by the Cavalry Division 
commenced. General Lake took into the Doab with him the 
H.M. 8th, 27th, and 29th Light Dragoons, his Horse Artillery, 
and the 1st, 4th, and 6th Native Cavalry. A reserve brigade 
of infantry under Colonel Don followed on his tracks. Holkar 
himself had had a fair start. 

While he had been besieging Delhi, a filibustering body of 
Sikh horse had entered British territory and surrounded the 
frontier station of Saharanpur, where the civil magistrate and 
a small escort were defending themselves. Immediately on 
Holkar's disappearance from Delhi, Colonel Burn had marched 
out with his own battalion and six guns to the rescue. This 
force had gone as far as Shamlee, when it was surrounded by 
Holkar and itself besieged. In the meantime General Lake 
had left Delhi on October 31st, and marched ten miles, 
following to Bagput, fifteen miles, the next day. At Bagput 
they learnt of Colonel Burn's plight, and pushed on next day 
thirty miles to Candlah, reaching Shamlee on the 3rd in time 
to see Holkar's dust in the distance. The force here halted a 
day to straighten out the affairs of the hard-pressed garrison, 
and square accounts with local abettors of the Mahrattas, and 
started off on November 5th for the long, dogged pursuit. 
Day in, day out, twenty to thirty miles a day, the enemy always 
a march to a march and a half ahead, — the advance guard 
constantly skirmishing with smaller parties, the flank guards 
with local chiefs. Now and again the force would tarry a few 
hours en route to batter in the gates of some mud fort whose 
garrison had fired on them. The Doab was then a lawless 
tract, every man for himself and none for the peasant and his 
land, while the British rule was too recent to have cleared 
out the reiving baron and the masterless man. Fortunately 
the crops were nearly ripe, there was plenty of good forage 
in the high bajari 1 stalks, and water was no difficulty. 

1 Millet. 



lord lake's campaigns 43 

It is interesting to imagine a cavalry force of those days, 
the dragoons in the old English leather helmet, black, but 
none the worse sun protection for that, the men in white 
breeches, little jackets with a very short tail, and probably 
half-boots. The General himself was scrupulously turned 
out, with a wide-brimmed cocked hat turned down on the 
sunny side, stock and choker, waistcoat and sash, and crimson 
cut-away jacket: an elderly man but as hard as nails, a martinet 
but much beloved, with a reputation, like Lord Gough nearly 
half a century later, for an unfailing faith in the bayonet. Like 
Lord Gough, his men pulled him through, when he should 
have waited for his guns, only too glad to follow when dash 
always brought victory, and rarely stopped to count the cost. 
In the East "Uaudace encore Vaudace et toujours Vaudace" 
has always commanded success. Unfortunately, the pitcher 
went to the well once too often, and the next year found the 
British pulled up before a nut that was too hard for even 
General Lake's hard fist to crack. He was forced to retire 
from before the fortress of Bhurtpur, with a loss of over three 
thousand men, and it was not till twenty years later that Lord 
Combermere, the Stapylton- Cotton of Peninsula Cavalry 
fame, took the place. That, however, is another story, and we 
must return to General Lake at the head of his dragoons, and 
his galloper guns bounding over the tussocks of rough rye- 
grass, in full cry after Holkar, damning everyone that their 
horses could not fly. 

For ten long marches more did that cavalry division press 
on, always skirmishing, with the Mahratta always on the 
never-never horizon, or atop the next butt. Fortunately for 
the Doab, the raiders had been so handsomely hustled that 
beyond burning everything that came in their path, and carrying 
off such maids as were worth the bother, not much harm was 
done. 

But it is a long lane that has no turning, and at last, on the 
15th of November, after a march of twenty-one miles to Ally- 
gunge, definite information was received that Holkar, with 



44 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

all his force, had settled down for the night at Furruckabad, 
thirty-five miles further on. 

The information was definite and certain, and there was an 
opportunity for a coup, so at 9 p.m. the General turned out 
his force in silence, leaving his camp standing. As the men 
were parading, the encouraging news was received of a victory 
gained by General Fraser over Holkar's infantry at Deig, 
below the fortress of that name, under the guns of which 
they had taken shelter. The Mahrattas lost 2,000 men and 
87 guns, and the British 643, including 5 British officers killed 
and 17 wounded. Unfortunately, the General himself was 
mortally wounded, and Colonel Monson, succeeding to the 
command, had the satisfaction of recovering his own guns. 
To the news, then, of this crowning victory, General Lake 
and his troopers swung off into the night. The moon was up 
and the night cool, and several reports came in en route which 
spoke of Holkar's force indulging in a night's rest in fancied 
security. 

As the first glimmer of day was breaking the leading patrols 
came on the enemy's camp, seeing the horses picketed and 
the men sleeping by them. The Horse Artillery were brought 
up, and immediately opened on the sleeping camp, and in 
the confusion that followed the discharge the 8th Dragoons 
charged into the camp, and the other regiments coming up 
in succession followed. The only untoward occurrence during 
the march had been the inexplicable explosion of an ammuni- 
tion wagon, which, however, though heard by Holkar himself, 
was mistaken by him for the morning gun at the not far distant 
cantonment of Futtyghur. 

The cavalry attack met with little resistance; the enemy, 
panic-stricken, fled in every direction. Here and there men 
stood in clumps with pike and matchlock, and Arabs and 
Afghans sold their lives for sheer lust of fighting, but even 
isolated resistance was short, and many, whose horses had 
stampeded, had concealed themselves in trees to be shot down 
or speared at leisure. Holkar himself had been awake all night, 



LORD LAKES CAMPAIGNS 45 

and had been among the first to make for the open. After 
seeing a nautch the night before, he had, on retiring, been 
greeted with the same news of the battle of Deig as the British, 
and keeping the news to himself had spent a sleepless night. 
Prior to the attack, sixty thousand horse were said to be in 
Holkar's camp. Three thousand were killed that morning, 
and Holkar never succeeded in rallying more than thirty 
thousand again. The British loss was two dragoons killed, and 
some twenty of all ranks wounded, with seventy-five horses. 
The attack had been a timely one in other ways, for the day 
before, the outlying portion of Futtyghur cantonment had 
been burned, and the few European officials driven into a 
small fort, which the Mahrattas would probably have stormed 
the next morning. Many of the Pathan or Afghan colony at 
Furruckabad, then a colony a hundred years old, had joined 
Holkar and were killed in the night attack. 

The British pursued the fugitives for close on fourteen 
miles without coming up with Holkar himself, who never drew 
rein till he had crossed the Calini river, eighteen miles from 
Furruckabad on the Mainpuri road. 

On November 17th, the British again followed on his tracks, 
arriving at Mainpuri cantonment on the 22nd. Holkar had 
passed by this place on the day after his flight with such of 
his cavalry as had rallied, and immediately commenced burning 
the British houses and government buildings, the inhabitants 
taking refuge in the gaol, which was defended by three 
companies of militia and one gun. On Skinner's Horse 
coming up, however, in pursuit, the Mahrattas made off 
again. 

Holkar himself succeeded in joining his broken infantry 
in the fortress of Deig, and General Lake and his cavalry 
rejoined the infantry at Muttra, where they waited for a siege 
train before tackling that almost impregnable stronghold. 

It is interesting to note that they did not get their medals 
till 1850, nearly fifty years after. Of the five regiments of Light 
Dragoons, the 8th, 19th, 25th, 27th, and 29th, that took part 



46 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

in Lord Lake's and General Wellesley's campaigns, the 8th 
only has preserved unbroken existence, while most of the 
native cavalry and infantry of the Grand Army deliberately 
wiped out their records in the Great Mutiny. It is the British 
infantry and the Company's artillery and infantry now merged 
in the Imperial Army who chiefly retain the records. 




o 

Pi 
< 

O 



Q 
PS 
m 

K 

B 



[Face page 46 



IV 
THE TWO SIEGES OF BHURTPUR (1805 and 1826) 
The First Siege 

A hundred years is a long time to remember. Since Lord 
Wellington, with scant patience, sat him down to besiege those 
fortresses in Spain that barred his progress, the British Army 
has not been largely concerned with sieges. Defences of a kind 
have been numerous, but the sieges have been but five, and the 
first of the five took place more than a century and a quarter ago. 
The other three were within the nine years from 1848 to 1857, 
commencing with the curious outbreak of a disgruntled governor 
against his own Indian masters, which ended in the siege of 
Multan, a story of tragedy and romance, then in 1854 the weary- 
long-drawn siege of Sebastopol, and last the ever famous story 
of the Ridge at Delhi. 

The medal inscribed "To the Army of India," given for the 
campaign, bears last among its twenty-four clasps that for 
"Bhurtpur," and yet what of it? Who knows or cares of 
Bhurtpur and what befell there ! of the dogged failure of Lord 
Lake, at the end of a career of daring triumphs, of the three 
thousand soldiers who fell before its walls to no avail, of all 
India watching the British for twenty years and more, in jeering 
wonder, and then the writing on the wall, and the capture after 
a prolonged siege and storm in 1826! The British corps that 
took part may treasure the memory — the native regiments that 
did so well, vanished in the debacle of 1857, and no one else 
remains to care, though as many troops took part in the final 
capture as landed in the Crimea. 

47 



48 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

Bhurtpur was a large, and in those days, strongly fortified 
city a few marches from Agra, the centre of the incomprehensible 
and warlike race of Jats, to which some say the Gypsies of 
England belong. It was besieged and four times unsuccessfully 
assaulted by Lord Lake in 1805, from which date till Lord 
Combermere stormed the fortress in 1826, its rulers had scoffed 
at British supremacy, and harboured every wolfshead and every 
masterless man in the country side. 

The first siege of Bhurtpur came about as an aftermath 
of the Third Mahratta War in succession to the episodes of the 
Second and Third Mahratta Wars just described and the defeat 
of the two great Mahratta States -of Gwalior and Indore, ruled 
over by Sindia known as 'the PateV and Holkar descended of 
the moss-trooper of Hoi. 

Bhurtpur was an ally of Holkar and though when Sindiah 
had made peace the Rajah of Bhurtpur had done the same, yet 
after Monson's debacle he thought, like many others, 
that he knew which was the cat would jump, and had joined 
the elated Holkar. While General Lake and his dragoons had 
been chasing Holkar's hordes of horse, General Fraser had 
destroyed his infantry under the walls of the Jat fortress of 
Deig. » 

A few days later Lake himself appeared before the fortress 
with a light siege train drawn hastily from Agra, and opening 
fire on November 14th stormed the place with his usual elan 
on the 22nd. 

From thence he moved to settle accounts with the faithless 
Bhurtpur. 

After the continuous marching and countermarching of the 
last twelve months, Lake was anxious to give his troops some 
rest, and turned on Bhurtpur in the hope that his luck would 
hold good, and that its capture would finish the campaign. 
The past year had been full of incident, stirring and dramatic 
in the extreme, notably the rescue of the blind Shah Alam from 

1 The " Army of India " medal has clasps both for the " Battle of Deig " 
and the " Capture of Deig." 



THE TWO SIEGES OF BHURTPUR 49 

the hands of the French Mahratta fraternity. We in these days 
do not realise how hard the French influence died in Hindustan. 
In the State of Hyderabad the adventurer soldier thrives in a 
mean fashion to this day, and the descendants of the French 
soldiers of fortune are still to be found there, while in the 
Punjab their tracks are still recent. In the Imperial Service 
Forces of Kashmir there were till recently Dogra officers who 
would drill a battalion in French, close on 150 years after the 
downfall of the French power in India. 

Among the many incidents of Lake's campaign an amusing 
one comes down to us, and that is, how when the General was 
holding high Durbar in the Imperial city the day after his entry, 
the famous Begum Samru, or Sombre of Sardhana, came with 
her motley escort to pay her respects to success, and to the 
countrymen of her lover, George Thomas, her brute husband 
the drunken French sailor Sombre 1 having been dead some 
years. General Lake had lunched and lunched well, after the 
fashion of the days, and as the Begum entered the Durbar tent, 
he sprang down from his dias and kissed her soundly on both 
cheeks, whereat an uproar arose and some of her followers drew 
their swords. The Begum, however, airily remarked that he 
was her cousin and that such was the English custom, by which 
time the general had handed her to a seat beside him. 

Returning to the General on his way to Bhurtpur, it is interest- 
ing to try and picture an Indian army on the march a century 
ago. At the head marched the cavalry, three regiments of jolly 
English dragoons, in the leather crested helmet, a protection 
equally against sword and sun, and as many more of irregular 
horse, for the native dragoon in a travesty of Georgian uniform 
had not then been evolved. Wide on the flanks marched the 
newly-raised horse artillery, the outcome of the earlier galloper 
guns, the gunners in the same dragoon helmets, which this arm 
continued to wear in India till the days of the Mutiny, the light 
pieces leaping and bounding to every tussock of coarse kai 
grass. 

1 Walter Reinhart, nicknamed Sombre from his gloomy character. 



50 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

At the head of the infantry columns ride the general and his 
staff, a pad elephant for the convenience of reconnaissance 
lurching behind. General Lake, wearing an immense cheese 
cutter cocked hat, the right brim turned down against the 
morning sun, exactly as we wore our slouch hats in Africa, his 
grey hair en queue in the now failing fashion, rides a grey Arab 
and is cursing the carelessness of some of his rascally dragoons 
who have allowed some Pindaris to get at part of his baggage 
train. He is furious, and complains of being at the mercy of a 
damned incompetent staff and a pack of drowsy troopers, "as 
I was at Castlebar by gad," though for the matter of fact both 
staff and troopers had served him right well, as he fully re- 
cognised. Ever since he had been badly surprised by the 
French in Ireland, however, anything of the nature of an inroad 
upset his good humour. 

Behind the General came the main infantry headed by the 
famous 76th foot (now suitably enough the 2nd battalion of the 
Duke of Wellington's Own West Riding regiment) in the 
uniforms already described, or as much of them as a year's 
wear and tear had left, also H.M. 75th and the 1st Bengal 
Fusiliers. With them marched four staunch and veteran 
battalions of Bengal Native Infantry, at a time when the old 
Bengal Army was at its zenith, and had not fallen into the hands 
of faddists to its bitter undoing, viz., the 2nd, 9th, 15th and 
22nd Native Infantry. 

The 76th had been through the campaign since the beginning, 
had stormed the astounding fortress of Aligarh and borne the 
brunt of the onslaught of the Mahrattas at Delhi, and led the 
attack at Laswaree, at a time when they were the only European 
infantry with the force. They were indispensable to General 
Lake, who used the corps as * storm ' troops for, in the morn- 
ing he would call for his boots and his 76th Foot, and then 
attack. In the capture of Deig the week before, it was the 76th 
that had the place of honour and the most losses. Their casual- 
ties had been very severe in the campaign and the whole battalion 
had practically been replaced once. 



THE TWO SIEGES OF BHURTPUR 51 

The four sepoy battalions wore scarlet cut-away jackets and 
white shorts that left their legs free and bare. Their headgear 
was a low black shako, and had not yet developed into the 
monstrosity of later days, and their arm was the old flint fusil 
with the long bayonet. With the infantry lumbered the foot 
artillery, nines and twelves, and then the long yokes of bullock 
drawing the forty-pounder trains with tumbrils and mortar 
beds and all the impedimenta of a siege train. The long baggage 
trains of an army are much the same all the world over, and in 
one century as in another. The general appearance would be 
much the same as in India to-day, save that elephants are fewer 
and baggage far less. 1 

On January 2nd, 1805, the army swung into position before 
Bhurtpur, in which Runjhit Singh, the Jat Rajah, with a large 
force of Jats and Mahrattas had ensconced himself. Outside, 
bodies of Holkar's cavalry hung about, having recovered from 
their previous beating, and with them was Jeswunt Rao himself, 
and Amir Khan the Pindari leader as well, with a large following 
of horse. The outer wall of Bhurtpur, some four miles in 
circumference, had an appearance of immense strength, consist- 
ing of huge bastions and curtains of solid masonry, covered 
with a thick layer of mud bricks. The bastions were extremely 
lofty and guns innumerable bristled from the tops, while round 
the whole ran a wide ditch crossed by narrow causeways and 
into which water could be admitted by a canal connected with 
ajheel hard by. 

The General's first idea was to put his 76th at it and take the 
place by storm, and it is probable that the elan and determination 
of his troops, added to the prestige they had acquired, would 
have induced success. There is little doubt that in '57 Delhi 
would have fallen to an assault following on the battle of Badli ka 

1 It has been sung — 

' In the days of Seringapatam 
We lived on chappatties and jam 
And marched hundreds of miles 
Behind hathis and byles 
In the days of Seringapatam. 



52 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

Seria, » and the first return of the masters to the ridge, or even 
that Sebastopol would have yielded to a prompt advance of the 
Allies. The solemn preparations for a siege mean that every 
weak point is thoroughly defended and the assault indefinitely 
delayed. 

General Lake allowed himself to be persuaded, and sat down 
to a siege with a very inadequate siege train. His shot and shell 
penetrated the thick mud coating of the walls without doing 
any damage. On January 7th, some infantry stationed outside 
the walls were dislodged and batteries at once established. By 
the 9th a rough scramble alley had been battered on the face 
of one bastion, and the impatient general ordered an assault 
for that night at 8 p.m. Three columns formed for the storming 
and filed out of the camp in the still of the evening. The centre 
columns consisting of the flank companies of the four European 
battalions and a native battalion, led the attack under Colonel 
Maitland. The leading men of the 22nd swam the ditch and 
scrambled up the wall but in the dark they were not followed 
immediately, and the surprised garrison hurrying to the ram- 
parts had time to get into their breastworks and open a heavy 
fire on the stormers. The flank columns, delayed by unexpected 
obstacles, came up to the support late, and the men of the 22nd 
were forced back with heavy loss. Colonel Maitland himself 
was killed in leading the centre column to a second attempt and 
nearly every officer being down, the force made their way back 
to the trenches baffled more than beaten. Five officers and 
eighty-five men killed, and twenty-four officers and 371 men 
wounded, but General Lake, cheery and resolute, issued a 
hearty order and decided to have at them again, but by daylight 
this time. At 3 p.m. on the afternoon of the 21st, a storming 
party consisting of detachments of the 22nd, 75th and 76th, 
equipped with ladders and portable bridges, headed once more 
for the ill-omened breach. Behind followed the remainder of 
these corps and the 9th, 15th and 22nd Native Infantry, the 
whole under Colonel McRae. The defenders had not been idle 

1 Though it could probably not have been held. 



THE TWO SIEGES OF BHURTPUR 53 

since their victory, and a number of guns from the parapets had 
been collected round the breach. Jingal and zumboorak, field 
piece and sher butcha and every devil-mouthed contrivance 
that could belch old nails and grape, opened on the stormers as 
they breasted the breach. As success seemed impossible under 
the circumstances and men were falling in scores, Colonel McRae 
drew off his force with a loss of eighteen officers and 573 men. 

The General, nothing daunted, thanked his men for their 
efforts, and cheered their spirits by falling on Amir Khan, the 
Pindari leader, who had ventured to tamper with convoys 
meant for better men than he. After this diversion, the besiegers 
took matters more quietly, pounding solidly away at walls that 
crumbled but slowly, till on February 10th, more fresh blood 
was added in the shape of reinforcements from Bombay under 
Major- General Jones. By this time the besiegers had prepared 
large quantities of rafts, ladders and fascines, while regular 
approaches had been made and the siege batteries pushed close 
to the walls. A mine had been laid to blow up the counterscarp, 
and at 4 p.m. on the afternoon of February 20th, the third 
assault took place. 

The command was entrusted to Lieutenant-Colonel Don, 
who had greatly distinguished himself in Monson's disastrous 
retreat. The Bombay troops formed the bulk of the two flank 
columns and the centre was furnished by the original troops 
of the force, the 76th, of course, leading. The enemy had 
made two desperate sallies during that morning and the 
night before, but had been repulsed, not without severe loss to 
the besiegers, and the dead lay still about when the assault 
started. Something went wrong, what exactly is hard to say, 
the troops in the centre column were probably stale — they had 
fair reason to be. Fearing a mine they hesitated at the foot of 
the breach, in vain Colonel Don urged and incited them, but 
the men, the famous and invincible 76th would not look at the 
breach. In vain a forlorn hope of the 22nd sacrificed itself, in 
vain a few sepoys attempted the breach. The men were stale, 
badly stale, and hung about at the foot of the rubble only to 



54 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

lose heavily. The 32nd Native Infantry with two guns tried 
the breach once more, while a column of the 86th entering one 
tower, captured eleven guns and actually removed them but 
were unsupported. The defenders sprang a mine, and this 
added to the confusion, so that the attempt was abandoned, 
though fourteen officers ran to the front and tried to persuade 
the men to take advantage of the enemy's confusion. The loss 
was twenty-eight officers and 894 men, to the chagrin of the 
General. Nothing daunted, however, he decided to renew his 
attack next day since the failure of the last seemed due to 
exceptional reasons. He addressed the troops on parade 
regretting the misconduct of the Europeans, referring to it more 
in sorrow than in anger, and called for volunteers for a storming 
party. Lieutenant Templeton of the 76th offered to lead the 
forlorn hope. At three o'clock of the next afternoon, the fourth 
assault commanded by the gallant if unthinking Brigadier 
Monson, filed out to the foot of the breaches, with a fine enthu- 
siasm that spoke volumes for the discipline of the period. The 
troops were furnished by the 1st Europeans, the 65th and 85th 
Foot, and three battalions of Bengal Native Infantry, with every 
siege gun that could be brought to bear joining in, till very hell 
seemed loose. 

In vain again, however, forlorn hopes struggled up the glacis, 
in vain sepoy and soldier vied with each other for the place of 
honour while staff officers shouted and regimental officers died 
in trying to lead the rank and file to impossible feats. Down 
the rubble slopes of the steep breaches, over the masses of 
corruption that were once smartly accoutred British soldiers 
and the debris of shot and shell in the ruins, half a score of 
cannon belched grape and canister and scrap iron, till close on 
a thousand of the stormers lay piled high, a horror and an 
offence in the sinking sun. 

Dogged had failed to do it, for once in Lord Lake's career 
and the Brigadier sullenly withdrew his broken columns. 
Thirty-four officers and 987 rank and file was the butcher's tally 
that night. 



THE TWO SIEGES OF BHURTPUR 55 

The four assaults had cost the British 103 officers and 3,100 
men, while the siege guns were worn out and the ammunition 
expended. The siege was therefore changed to a blockade, 
since loose his grip the General would not, and again he soothed 
his temper by falling on Amir Khan and Holkar, who had dared 
harass his rear once more. On this Runjhit Singh of Bhurtpur, 
weary of a defence which held little promise, expressed his 
readiness to treat, and finally agreed to render up the territories 
we had given him from those taken from Sindiah, and to pay 
twenty lakhs of rupees towards the cost of the war. Defeat 
could have hardly cost him more dear. 

Lord Lake, for he had been raised to the peerage, "of Delhi 
and Laswarree," a fact on which the Bhurtpur Rajah had sent 
out to congratulate him in the middle of the siege, now turned 
once more on the irreconcilable Holkar and chased him north 
till he fled for safety to the Punjab, when the great Marquis 
Wellesley having been recalled, a peace-at-any-price Viceroy, 
Sir George Barlow, ordered Lake to return, and restored his 
lost dominions to Jeswunt Rao. 

So though the Rajah of Bhurtpur had been content enough 
to purchase peace, yet throughout the length and breadth of 
Hindustan went the story of the invincible British, the cursed 
Angrez, four times hurled back from those grey mud towers, so 
that men said what one has done another may do, and every 
native prince in the land let hope rise in his breast. Bhurtpur 
blustered and swaggered, and built an immense new tower to 
his walls with the skulls of the British dead, but did not mention 
the twenty lakhs he had paid to loose the grip outside. 

After that whenever the hand of the English fell heavy on 
the East, men would say, "Yah! bully us, but go and take 
Bhurtpur," and into that walled city gradually went for sanc- 
tuary half the illgotten treasure in Upper India. Thus closed 
the episode of the First Siege of Bhurtpur. 



56 vignettes from indian wars 

The Second Siege of Bhurtpur 

For twenty years the " Fateh Burj" the Tower of Victory, 
with its plinth of skulls, stood as a mark of promise to Hindustan. 
War succeeded war, potentates fought against the Pax Britannica 
from the south and west of India to Burma and the Himalayas, 
and all the time the taunt was in men's mouths "Go take 
Bhurtpur." After the fiascos and overwhelming losses from 
folly and disease which marked the first year of the now forgotten 
Ava campaign, the first of the three Burma wars, the prestige 
of the "Huzoors" did not stand high in the land, and the 
Pindari barons and Mahratta chiefs finally conquered in 18 17- 19, 
all looked for a sign. 

In 1823 died Runjhit Singh of Bhurtpur, and a brother 
succeeded to the throne, to be shortly after poisoned by a 
nephew who seized the gaddi, and imprisoned the rightful heir, 
a lad some five years of age. The successor to Runjhit Singh 
had been recognised by us, and in the interest of his son, Doorjan 
Sal, the wicked nephew was declared a usurper. Sir David 
Ochterlony, he who twenty years earlier had helped defend 
Delhi against Holkar's hordes, denounced Doorjan Sal on behalf 
of the Governor- General and ordered a force to assemble and 
move at once to Bhurtpur, since he knew and none better, the 
ferment of which the walled city was the centre. On this the 
Governor- General Lord Amherst, with an army and a treasury 
heavily taxed to maintain the Burma war, ignoring the danger, 
counter-ordered the move and refused to ratify Sir David 
Ochterlony's promises of early reinstatement of the rightful 
heir to the throne. Sir David Ochterlony died shortly after, 
broken in heart at the rebuff and his supersession. 

Relieved of the approach of the terrible "Lony Ochter" 
Doorjan Sal collected arms, powder and artillery and sent 
messengers to all the princes and States of Central India asking 
for support, and it was not till he had made his position ex- 
tremely strong that the Government recognised that the action 



THE TWO SIEGES OF BHURTPUR 57 

of Doorjan Sal was a test case and all India the court. In 
December, 1825, a force of some 27,000 men with a big siege 
train moved on Bhurtpur under Lord Combermere, the 
Commander-in-Chief. 1 By December nth, the city was 
invested with a cordon fifteen and a half miles long. The same 
tall walls of solid mud which had baffled Lord Lake still sur- 
rounded the city, and the Motee Jheel still supplied water to 
the moat. Guns innumerable crowned the walls and 25,000 
Jats, Pathans and Rajputs defended the city and its immense 
store of treasure. Lord Combermere's left wing surprised the 
Jats in the act of cutting the dam that opened the moat to the 
waters of the jheel and thus prevented the ditch from becoming 
an obstacle. 

There is a story of the old Duke and the Court of Directors 
who had applied to him for advice in their selection of a Com- 
mander-in-Chief. He recommended Combermere, 2 to which 
they demurred, saying that they understood that Lord Comber- 
mere was not a man of great brain. "Damn his brains," said 
the Puke, " I tell you Combermere is the man to take Bhurtpur." 
The Commander-in-Chief spent nine days in survey and 
reconnaissance, and finally decided to attack from the east, but 
made a feint of coming from the south-west, as did Lord Lake. 
Under cover of this feint the cordon was drawn far closer, and 
two important positions on the east were taken up, a desperate 
sortie being repulsed on the 23rd, made with the object of 
attacking the first parallel which was within 600 yards of the 
walls. Owing to the nearness of this parallel the Jat guns could 
not be depressed sufficiently to reach the British batteries. On 
the 24th all women other than those of the Royal family were 
permitted to pass out and on the 25th a large force of the de- 
fenders' cavalry succeeded in cutting their way out. By the 
26th the Jat guns were silenced and the second parallel was 

1 Among the troops forming Lord Combermere's force, were the nth 
Light Dragoons, 1st and 8th Bengal Cavalry, 14th and 59th foot. 1st Bengal 
Fusiliers, and the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 37th, 58th, and 66th Native Infantry, with 
the Sirmoor and Nusseree Rifle Battalions, as well as a large force of Bengal 
Artillery, both British and Native. 

2 The Stapylton-Cotton of Waterloo fame. 



58 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

dug some 250 yards only from the city and by the 28th the 
approaches were within twenty yards of the walls. But in this 
" strange and gigantic concrete of earth" breaches, as Lord Lake 
had found, were no good. On the left a battery of fourteen 
heavy guns had battered one curtain for a week without making 
any real impression. Every heavy gun in Upper India had been 
brought to the siege and there was not an eighteen pounder to 
be found elsewhere at any place north of Allahabad, so on 
January 6th, it was decided to mine under the ditch to the big 
bastions. On the 7th a shell from the city blew up one of our 
ammunition tumbrils, and this exploded an adjacent magazine 
of 20,000 lbs. of powder — a heavy loss. The bombardment 
continued to distract attention from the mining. On the 13th, 
1,808 shot and shell were fired into the city, and on the 15th, 
1,416, rising to 1,894 on tne 16th. The garrison continually 
sortied at night with great resolution. Our own mines more 
than once met the enemy countermining and on the 8th some 
mines exploded to give entrance to the counterscarp, where 
sixteen Gurkhas surprised some sixty of the enemy and des- 
troyed them. It had been rumoured that the big breach by 
which a scramble way led to the top had been repaired and on 
the 20th five Gurkhas and half a dozen British volunteered to 
reconnoitre. They gained the top unmolested, fired a volley on 
the defenders and hurled stones, creating a great panic, escaping 
with only the loss of one of their number. Feeling was running 
high among the besiegers for some prisoners captured by the 
Jats had been mutilated and put to death. A curious incident 
was the desertion to the enemy of a Corporal Herbert of the 
Bengal Horse Artillery who had been reduced. 1 He took an 
active part in working the enemy's guns, directing them with 
success on Lord Combermere's camp, and was finally hanged 
by us for his pains, on the capture of the city. 

It was decided to make the attack on the " Long-necked" 
bastion and the north-east angle, and two mines under the 

1 Two other English and two Irish gunners went with him. Herbert had 
served at Waterloo. It would be interesting to know the grievance that worked 
on his mind. 



THE TWO SIEGES OF BHURTPUR 59 

former were exploded on the 16th bringing down the clay case 
with brick core and all the guns on top. The mine under the 
north-east bastion was complete on the 17th, filled to 10,000 lbs. 
powder, and fitted with a train 300 yards long. 

It was arranged to spring the mine and then assault in two 
main columns, one under General Nicholls against the " Long- 
necked" bastion and the other under General Reynell against 
the North-east Bastion. A third column under Colonel Delamain 
was to attack a breach made by battering close to the Jageenah 
gate. A subsidiary column from General Nicholls' force was 
to assault a battered breach on the left of the " Long-necked" 
Bastion, and another force under Colonel Wilson was to turn 
to the right at the ditch and attack an outwork. 

Before dawn on the 18th all the stormers had occupied the 
trenches and only awaited the explosions. The defenders with 
an intuition of what was going forward opened a heavy fire at 
daybreak till it was announced at 8 a.m. that all was ready. 
The mine by the breach near the Jageenah Gate was sprung 
first and then that in the counterscarp, west of the north-east 
angle. 

These explosions brought the garrison crowding to the walls, 
800 Pathan warriors rushing to the parapets of the huge north- 
east bastion which it was their duty to hold. Immediately the 
mine under this latter with its 10,000 lbs. of powder was fired. 
The ground heaved and rocked, and with a dull heavy roar half 
the bastion lurched and rose sullenly in the air, followed by 
clouds of thick pungent smoke carrying high into the air guns 
and gabions, Pathans, banners, swords and matchlocks to be 
strewn in their descent in one horrid confusion of mangled flesh 
and broken metal. Three hundred of the Pathans had been 
blown to pieces. As the smoke cleared, Reynell's leading 
brigade, which had also suffered somewhat from the explosion, 
consisting of a wing of H.M.'s 14th, the 58th Bengal Native 
Infantry and 100 Gurkhas of the Nusseeree Battalion, dashed 
at the reeking breach, while half a minute later Nicholls' column 
with loud cheers, went at the " Long-necked" bastion. The 



60 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

defence of the Pathan bastion by the survivors of the explosion 
was desperate in the extreme, and both Reynell's brigadiers, 
McCombe and Patton, were struck down in the breach, while 
only seventy-five of the defenders escaped with their lives. 

On reaching the summit of the Pathan (north-east) bastion, 
the first brigade, now led by Major Everard, turned to the right, 
and the second under Major Bishop swung to the left. These 
latter soon joined Nicholls' right which had diverged after the 
' * Long-necked " bastion had been carried. Brigadier Edwards 
who led this assault had been killed and his brigade much 
knocked about, so that it was not till Fagan's second brigade 
came up that this force penetrated beyond the summit of the 
bastion they had won. Nicholls' reserve brigade under Brigadier 
Adams succeeded in entering the city by the Mutt,ra Gate and 
clearing the streets. 

Away on the British left Colonel Delamain's column, whose 
breach by the Jageenah Gate had been the first to be exploded, 
scaled the parapet and succeeded in forcing the defenders 
towards the gate, where there was a deep alley way some sixty 
feel below the rampart level, with only one flight of narrow 
steps leading down. As Delamain forced the Jats back on this 
chasm, Everard's column came up from the east, and thus a 
number of them were penned in, with only the deep hollow 
street below them. Refusing surrender, they fought on with 
desperation, till hurled pellmell into the abyss. Some hundreds 
lay there dead or dying, their padded cotton coats catching fire 
adding to the horror, while their exploding bandoliers made 
any attempts at rescue a perilous one. 

By this time Lord Combermere had come to the Jageenah 
Gate and received the news that a short time previously Major 
Hunter, of the 41st Native Infantry, had pursued a party of the 
garrison into the palace and inner fort, and that Khoosial Singh, 
brother-in-law of Doorjan Sal, with 100 followers had been 
shut out of the palace and refusing to surrender had been killed. 
Guns were sent to blow in the gates and it was finally found 
that Doorjan Sal and his immediate following had escaped by 






• mi'mrMifr 




i. The " Sutlej " Medal 1845-6 

2. The Medal for the Capture of Seringapatam 1798 

3. The " Punjab " Medal 1848-49 





y.,..i,. u . ) i,. Trn^ 
f P -' ■ Q' 

^55 





1. The Indian Medal of 1854 (f° r frontier campaigns) 

2. The Indian Medal of 1854 (obverse) 

3. The Indian Mutiny Medal. The third clasp for Delhi: 
" Delhi (1857) " previously " Battle of Delhi (1803) " 

"Defence of Delhi (1806)" 



The War Medals of India. I. 



[Face page 60 



THE TWO SIEGES OF BHURTPUR 6l 

the Combheer Gate, cutting down a picquet of H.M.'s 14th who 
had opposed them. 

Outside, the cavalry under Brigadier Sleigh had captured 
6,000 fugitives, and at half-past two in the afternoon, seeing no 
sign of more, the Brigadier had dismissed his brigade. Hardly 
had this been done when the riding master of the 8th cavalry 
reported horsemen in the jungle and Lieutenant Barbor with 
his troop being ordered after them, was saddled up in time to 
capture Doorjan Sal himself, with his wife and child, the former 
surrendering with Barbor's pistol at his head. 

In the meantime the whole city was in our hands, with the 
37th Native infantry in the inner fort, their king's colour floating 
from over the gateway to the cheers of the soldiery. Next 
morning the Commander-in-Chief and his staff breakfasted in 
the palace, and the rightful heir, the son of the murdered 
Baldeo Singh, was reinstated, but in future as a vassal and 
in alliance with the British. The army then marched off for the 
frontier of Alwar, taking with them the usurper, Doorjan Sal, 
who was maintained as a detenu at Benares. 

Thus ended the siege of Bhurtpur, and thenceforward no 
state remained south of the Sutlej to dispute the sovereignty of 
the Huzoors. 

Of the 25,000 or so said to have been the garrison of the city, 
it is believed that 13,000 were killed or wounded and that 4,000 
perished in the grand assault, so that men said that no wise men 
would ever again quarrel with the Sirkar. One hundred and 
thirty-five pieces of ordnance were captured, and immense 
treasure, of which the troops were granted a large portion of 
prize money (some £480,000). The total British loss was under 
1,100, a very different tally from that of the first siege. Two 
years later Lord Combermere went there on a visit and was 
well received. In the strain of the Mutiny thirty years later, the 
J at contingent naturally enough, went with the majority. 



THE PINDARI WAR 

The Battle of Kirkee 

November 5, 18 17 

" The hawk-winged horse of Damajee, 
Mailed squadrons of the Bhao." 

— (With Scindiah to Delhi.) 

Mahratta and Pindari 

It has chanced that November the Fifth shall be a day of 
doings and remembrance within this British domain. Apart 
from the irony of memory that should make Mr. Guido Fawkes' 
brilliant idea become the happy feast day of British youth, it 
has been the date of more than one memorable feat of arms 
which we also "remember." On the Fifth of November, 1854, 
was fought on the Heights of Inkerman that famous " soldiers' 
battle," when all day long, huge, grey-coated hordes poured 
out of Sebastopol, and fell on the small British force that had 
so rashly set itself down before the fortress. 

It appears to be a day famous to small forces who achieve 
victories, for on that date, 18 17, was fought the battle, against 
huge masses of Mahrattas, the troops of the Peshwa, on the 
plains of Kirkee hard by the "Bullock's Hump" at Ganesh- 
Kind, which once and for all put the question at rest as to 
the relationship between the Mahrattas and the British amid 
the ruins of the Turkish Empire of Delhi. 

Some outline of the second and third wars between the 
British and one or other of the chiefs of the great Mahratta 
confederacy has been given. 

62 



THE PINDARI WAR, 1817-19 63 

The Mahrattas are one of the most virile of the peoples of 
Western India, and as a military class their rank and file at- 
tained a fame in the old wars which, forgotten during the ages 
when military thought has been concentrated on the northern 
races, sprang into the first place again in the World War. 
Ethnologically they are as explained an earlier people mingled 
with some Aryan or Jat strain, and among them as financiers, 
counsellors, ministers, but not men of the sword, are the race 
with the acutest brains perhaps in the whole world, the Brah- 
mins, who from time immemorial have settled among the 
Mahrattas and are known as Mahratta, or more accurately 
Dekhani Brahmins. 

We may be sure that if India can achieve under a more 
advanced scale of self-government any stability and success, 
it is the Dekhani Brahmin who will be most prominent among 
her public men, though it is said that their mastery of and 
instinct for intrigue may be their undoing hereafter, as in 
days gone by. But though they have perhaps as a whole always 
been hostile to British dominion, they have given innumerable 
faithful officers and lesser servants to the British administra- 
tion, as the martial classes have given to the army. 

The famous history of this brilliant people is germane to 
the events which led up to that battle on the Guy Fawkes' day 
which brought the Pax Britannica to the sore pressed peasantry 
of the country-side over which the Mahratta horsemen roamed 
at will, predatory and rapacious beyond belief. 

Some years ago, the officer commanding the artillery at 
Kirkee, was Colonel Holberton, C.B., almost the last of the 
"Company's Gunners" in India, who as a lad in the Bombay 
Artillery had served in the suppression of the Mutiny and 
concomitant rebellion among the Southern Mahratta tribes. 
The artillery used to drill, nay do still, on the plain where took 
place the battle, and close to the Mahratta 1 College of Science. 
The Principal of the College forty years ago had written to 

1 Whose students are or were largely Brahmin. 



64 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

Colonel Holberton to know by what authority he manoeuvred 
his batteries so close to his precious college, and the colonel 
had returned the laconic and to our minds delightful answer, 
"Authority, Battle of Kirkee, November 5, 1817." The point 
was not susceptible of further argument. 

The story of Maharasthra, the rise of the Mahratta con- 
federacy, and their crushing defeat at Panipat at the Afghan 
hands, has been told, as also their being brought to a due sense 
of their true position in a peaceful India, forty years later, at 
the hands of Lord Lake and Arthur Wellesley, the instruments 
of the latter's brother, the Governor- General, and how the 
five great chiefs entered into subsidiary alliance and treaty 
with the Crown through the agency of the Company. 

The East Indian Company and Parliament, appalled at the 
prospect of Empire and greatness that the genius Marquis 
Wellesley and the strange fate that compelled the British des- 
tiny had thrust on them, sent King Log to reign where King 
Stork had been supreme. The enemies of Great Britain raised 
their heads again and dreamed once more of driving the strange 
white race into the sea. 

For generations had the Mahrattas carried on their licensed 
system of plunder, demanding the Chouth or fourth part of 
the revenue, and had even reached to the walls of Calcutta and 
of Fort St. George at Madras. It was hardly to be expected 
that the squires and barons and leaders of horse who marched 
under their banners could speedily acquiesce in the Pax 
Britannica, especially when the strong policy of Wellesley was 
relaxed. Moreover, there had long been growing up on the 
banks of the Nerbudda and around the hill fastnesses in Central 
India, an Alsatian coterie of free-lance bands, relics of Mogul 
horse, expatriated Rohillas with tribal connections in Central 
Asia, and all the derelict fighting men that the dying of such a 
system as the Mogul Empire has seen produced in many lands. 

From the Nerbudda, in the winter season, these hordes, 
known as Pindaris, would sally forth to rob, to rape, and to 
murder, and would attach themselves to any of the big Mahratta 



THE PINDARI WAR, 1817-19 65 

chiefs who would have them, or who would plunder on their 
own. For hundreds of miles the countryside called to High 
Heaven for relief from their atrocious cruelties and exactions. 
The Mahratta chiefs took no steps to suppress them, indeed 
openly intrigued with them in the hope of trying once more 
a decision with the British for the paramountcy of Hindustan. 
Once again the Governor- General, now Lord Moira, better 
known by his soldier name in the American War of Independ- 
ence as Francis Rawdon, had to set armies in motion from the 
south and the east and the west, to put an end to the robber 
hordes on the Nerbudda, and he called on his Mahratta allies 
to support him. 

Under Lord Wellesley's policy the Mahratta chiefs received 
subsidiary British forces to help prevent the internecine attacks 
which had so long ensued between Mahratta and Mahratta, 
and Mahratta and Nizam. The commencement of the Pindari 
war saw the Bhonsla and the Peshwa treacherously attack their 
subsidiary forces. Together with Holkar they then joined the 
Pindaris; the faithless Baji Rao played into every hand, but 
used heaven and earth to set the whole confederacy going 
against the British, by whose help alone he held his throne. 
It is not the purpose of this paper to follow the military story 
of the campaign. The medal "To the Army of India," which 
bears the clasps for Wellesley's and Lake's great battles, also 
carries several for this series of wars. 

The "Defence of Seetabaldi" and "Seetabaldi" commemo- 
rate the attacks by the Bhonsla on his Resident and escort, 
"Kirkee and Poona," and "Coregaum" the Peshwa's attempts, 
while at "Mehidpur" the army of Holkar was destroyed. 

But the dramatic story which is to be told here is that of 
the events which led to the battle of Kirkee, and the attempts 
made by the Peshwa to "do the dirty" on his friends. It was 
this victory that resulted in the abolition of the Peshwa, and 
the annexation of Poona and its country, and it is therefore 
the outstanding feature of the story, made the more interesting 
because of the romantic setting in which the Peshwa's capital 



66 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

lies. With the battle the modern history of Western India 
begins, and the settlement with the other chiefs which has 
endured, with one exception, to this day. 

For many years there had been direct relations with the 
Peshwa, and from 1785 a British Resident had been deputed 
to his court. The Resident dwelt at the Sungam, a junction of 
the Moola and the Moota rivers, which wind in an intricate 
manner round Poona, and a spot famous for its beauty and 
amenities. The Peshwa's capital lies on the opposite bank, a 
mass of tiled roofs and temple spires with the green background 
of the Ghats behind, steep, rugged mountains, which to the 
right attain a rugged height where stands the ancient Moslem 
fortress of Singhar, and which then was a Mahratta stronghold. 
The country to-day is amply wooded, but a century or so ago 
was far less so. Far and near in the mountains round, ancient 
Moslem and Mahratta forts frown down on every pass and 
trade route. From the 'nineties onward a subsidiary force, 
paid for by the Peshwa, but organised by the British, was 
stationed at Garpir outside the city. This force had not taken 
part in the battle of Harapsar already referred to, when Holkar 
beat the combined force of Sindiah and the Peshwa. After 
Wellesley had replaced the Peshwa on his throne in 1803, a 
regular British force had moved into Garpir in support of the 
latter, and the subsidiary force had moved to Dapooree, a site 
some four miles north of the Sungam on the left bank of the 
Moota, which curls right back and here runs in the opposite 
direction to that when it joins the Moola. 

The Battle of Kirkee 

All 1 8 17 the Peshwa had been intriguing to induce the other 
Mahratta chiefs to resist the British plans for exterminating the 
Pindari evil and generally to combine in conjunction with the 
Pindaris against the British in one more attempt to dominate 
India. The work of the Marquis Wellesley had not been finished 
off, and it now seemed likely to need doing afresh. 



THE PINDARI WAR, 1817-19 67 

The British force at Poona was under very much the same 
conditions as to this day holds at Secunderabad, where a large 
British force dwells close to the Nizam's capital of Hyderabad, 
placed there originally for his protection. It consisted, in the 
autumn of 18 17, of the 2/ist, 2/6th, and i/7th Bombay Infantry 
with six light guns, to which had lately been added the Bombay 
European Infantry from Bombay, sent at the request of Mr. 
Elphinstone, the Resident, who was fully aware of the Peshwa's 
actions, and had especially grown apprehensive at the large 
number of Mahratta troops which were gathering in the vicinity 
of Poona. 

The Garpir cantonment was in a singularly indefensible 
position, and would have been abandoned earlier for some 
better spot, had not the Resident feared to precipitate a crisis 
which after all might yield to reason and expostulation. It 
should be noticed that this factor, while often leading to the 
passing of a crisis, has more than once induced a grave disaster 
when the bluff has failed — but then our Empire in India has 
risen often enough on sheer bluff so far as fighting has been 
concerned. 

The forces now assembled on the Bamburda plain between 
the 'Bullock's Hump' and the Moola were vast. They were 
under the command of one Gokla, who had at one time com- 
manded Mahratta auxiliary horse under Wellesley, with several 
Panj-hazaris 1 of horse under Moro Dixit and Vinchorla and 
other Mahratta leaders, and several of the Peshwa's regular 
battalions, with some European training and a large mass of guns. 

By the 5th of November it was evident that the crisis had 
arrived. Mr. Elphinstone, who represented the supreme govern- 
ment now directed Colonel Burr, of the Bombay Europeans, 
who commanded the force, to move out to Kirkee village, cross- 
ing the joint Moola-Moota river by the ford near Yellora, and 
then make for Holkar's Bridge over the Moola, and thence to 
the knoll on which stood the little village. While Burr was 
establishing himself here, Vinchorla brought his horse to swarm 

1 Panj-hazaris — a corps of 5,000. 



68 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

round the Residency in a threatening manner. The Resident 
determined to join Colonel Burr at once, but could not pass 
by the direct route and was compelled to cross the Moola by 
the ford near his garden and recross by Holkar's Bridge. With 
him went his escort, some 250 bayonets of Bengal Infantry. 
By 4 p.m. he was with the force at Kirkee. 

It is on record that the colonel, though a staunch old soldier, 
was somewhat past his prime. Elphinstone, who had been the 
political officer with Wellesley, was a man of ability and enter- 
prise and was a goad in his side. That pernicious interference 
of the political officer with the soldier, which at one time was 
so bitterly resented and was carried to such absurd lengths, 
was no doubt often the result of the advanced age at which the 
Company's officers attained command. 

The Mahratta force, Elphinstone considered, would only 
become more dangerous for every hour it was allowed to defy 
the British. Four of the afternoon of the Deccan autumn day 
was the best of all hours to start a fight so far as temperature 
went. There would be two and a half hours of daylight, and 
he judged that a determined front and an advance would at 
any rate diminish the Mahratta ardour. 

The force with Colonel Burr now consisted of one European 
and three regular native battalions, and six light guns, as well 
as the Resident's escort. At Dapuree, waiting under arms, was 
the subsidiary force, under Captain Forde, two more weak 
battalions and four more light guns. All the artillery was in 
bullock draught. The 2/6th Bombay Infantry, less its flank 
companies, was left entrenched at the village with two of 
Colonel Burr's guns and the kit. The rest of the force advanced 
in line south-west towards the Bullock's Hump, on both sides 
of which could be seen the Mahratta camps with a long line 
of guns in action, both right and left of the Hump. Behind 
them lay a brown range of flat-topped hills; beyond, the great 
range of the Ghats and the fortress of Singhar. 

The line consisted of the 2/jih Bombay Infantry on the left, 
then the Bengal Detachment, and the European Regiment in 



THE PINDARI WAR, 1817-19 69 

the centre, with the 2/ist Bombay Infantry on the right. On 
both flanks were two guns. At the same time, Captain Forde 
was ordered to cross the Moota and join the right of the British 
as they advanced. 

The line now moved forward in this order over the open 
plain, in full view of the Mahrattas, for about a mile, and then 
brought up its left shoulder to a halt in the open somewhere 
in the position of the present Kirkee race-course. By this time 
Forde's battalions were approaching, and large bodies of cavalry 
moved forward from the Mahratta position. A great mass 
under Moro Dixit, Captain Forde's friend, 1 bore down on his 
battalions, which hastily formed front to their right. The 
charge was repulsed, Moro Dixit being hit by a shot laid, it 
was said, by Forde himself. 

It is said that the Peshwa, always irresolute, and who had 
been upset by the ill-omened breaking of the shaft of the Jari 
Phatka, or the yellow standard of the Confederacy, was watch- 
ing affairs from the Hill of Parbutti, and had ordered Gokla 
to refrain from commencing the battle. But he was too late. 
The Mahrattas were surging and excited, and the horse were 
already fully committed. Their infantry now advanced, while 
large bodies of horse had left them behind and were threatening 
the British left. A regular Mahratta battalion under the com- 
mand of a Major De Pinto appeared in the scrub and gardens 
on the British left, and the 2/7th broke the line in their anxiety 
to close with them. Gokla, who was apparently a vigilant com- 
mander, seeing this, himself led a body of 6,000 horse into the 
gap, his guns ceasing fire as he flung this force against the right 
flank of the 7th. Stout old Colonel Burr, who had formerly 
commanded the 7th, hurried to the battalion's side and placed 
himself by their colours. There is no voice like that of a former 
colonel to steady a native corps. His two orderlies were shot 
at his side and his horse wounded, while a bullet went through 
his own shako. Thus encouraged, the 7th withstood the storm 
and beat off the cavalry, who had, moreover, got involved in 

1 Captain Forde was on intimate terms with many Mahratta chiefs. 



70 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

the muddy bottom of one of the small ravines which inter- 
sected the plain. Gokla's horse was killed under him, and the 
charge had failed. The horse swept on and round the red line 
and rallying squares, and then flew off to attack the village of 
Kirkee, where they were also repulsed. While this was in pro- 
gress, a body of 3,000 Arabs and Gosains moved down against 
the British right but were beaten off by the 1st Bombay Infantry. 

With the failure of this attack the Mahrattas began to drive 
off their guns, and the day was over. The British line re-formed 
and took post on the higher part of the plain to their front, 
and bivouacked on the field. Next day troops from Sirur 
marched in, and seven days later the British, now commanded 
by Brigadier- General Smith, advanced against the Mahratta 
force which was holding a line covering Poona from the direc- 
tion of the Yellora ford and what is now the Bund Bridge. The 
Mahrattas are defeated with little loss and make off for the open 
country by the Babdeo Ghat and for Singhar. Several guns are 
captured by a party of British horse at the foot of the high hills. 

While these events are in progress, somewhat similar hap- 
penings have occurred at Nagpur. A little later Baji Rao 
endeavours to destroy a small British force moving into Poona 
from Sirur, at the ever memorable fight of Coregaum. The 
Bhonsla attacks the Resident and his escort on Seetabaldi 
Hill, and is eventually defeated at the battle of Seetabaldi by 
the arrival of the army of the Dekhan. Sindiah, perhaps, by 
the wise advice of the Resident at his court, "King" Collins, 
of happy memory, abstains from breaking his treaty. Holkar 
must needs catch the war fever, and his forces are smashed at 
the Battle of Mehidpur. Then follows the breaking up of the 
Pindari hordes in central India and the hunting of the lawless 
lashkars of Mahratta horse, a long and weary but fascinating 
drama. At last, in 18 19, it comes to an end, Holkar and the 
Nagpur Rajah make peace on British terms. The evil and for- 
sworn Raj of the Peshwa is brought to an end, and his territory 
annexed — Baji Rao and his horse are hunted till he surrenders 
and ends his life a pensioner near Cawnpore. 



THE PINDARI WAR, 1817-19 71 

Long and weary as were the operations, it is the defeat at 
Kirkee of the massed Mahratta forces which sounded the knell 
of Mahratta power. Had Colonel Burr been overwhelmed, 
Sindiah could hardly have held to his treaty, and risings might 
have extended to every direction. Kirkee was the turning- 
point. The Rajah of Sattara was reinstated in a small princi- 
pality, and to this day the agreements with Holkar and Sindiah 
and the Gaikwar remain. The Bhonsla's territory was annexed 
by Lord Dalhousie just before the Mutiny for want of an heir, 
and the family of the Peshwa disappeared with his adopted 
son, the Nana, after '57. 

But to this day the people of the Dekhan will tell you that 
you can hear o' nights the tramp of the myriad horse of Baji 
Rao in their restless sweep of the countryside. 



VI 

THE FIRST AFGHAN WAR, 1839-42 

The Illustrious Garrison 

From time to time chance, circumstance, or design have 
applied epithets to men and to events which "on the stretched 
forefinger of all time sparkle for ever." In 1842 Lord Ellen- 
borough, Governor- General of the East Indies, giving the rein 
to his inherent admiration for deeds military, applied, in his 
general order announcing the belated successes in Afghanistan, 
the term "Illustrious Garrison" to the troops which held 
Jalalabad for many weary months. The army scoffed somewhat, 
as armies will, just as the army on the Modder talked of Buller 
the Ferryman, and the army in Natal scoffed at the force 
relieving Kimberley, and as the troops on the heights of Inker- 
man scoffed at the Light Brigade. It is the way of armies and 
is not all evil. The "Illustrious Garrison" was better known 
as " Sale's Brigade " at the time, but later the Governor- General's 
epithet stuck in men's minds when memory, as to the particular 
event that had evoked it, faded. 

H.M. 13th Foot, now the Somersetshire Light Infantry, 
carry to this day among their honourable devices the mural 
crown, that stock heraldic emblem to commemorate a siege. 
They alone of that garrison still figure in the Army List. The 
gallant, patient, faithful 35th Native Infantry who, like Clive's 
sepoys at Arcot, gave up their rations to the Europeans, blew 
up with nine-tenths of the Bengal Army in the cataclysm of 
'57, carrying away with them a century of history. Backhouse's 
Mountain Train, Ferris' Jezailchis, Broadfoot's Sappers, remain 
but in the pages of military annals. The famous 13th alone 
are still in being. 

72 




Shah Shujah-ul-Mulk 



[Face page 72 



THE FIRST AFGHAN WAR 73 

How the " Illustrious Garrison " earned the epithet, and 
why, is a thrice-told tale, but one that fades constantly. It is 
full of interesting sidelights, too, on the wars of the English, 
and worthy of being re-studied. 

How and why the British came to be in Afghanistan at all 
is a long story, and one which had its beginning half a century 
before. In August, 1798, there was published in London, by 
one John Fairburn, of 146 The Minories, a coloured map styled 
as follows: 

"Fairburn's New Chart, 

Exhibiting 

THE ROUTE OF GENERAL BUONAPARTE 

in the Mediterranean Sea 

With the countries through which the French Army must 

pass, viz: 

Egypt and the Red Sea and the Gulf of Persia 

TO MANGALORE 

In the territory of Tippoo Sahib in the East Indies.'' 

At that time, and in the years immediately following it, as 
already explained in "Lord Lake's Campaigns," Napoleon 
Buonaparte and the Emperor of Russia were making plans 
for the invasion of India by land, coupling with the original 
proposals the intention of coming to the assistance of " Citizen 
Tippoo." From that day onwards the Bear has ever cast his 
shadow forward on the borders of India. The defence of India 
was the subject of many memoranda and pamphlets so far 
back as the opening years of the nineteenth century, and by 
1835 was the subject of anxious study for statesmen and 
strategists. More immediate, at the beginning of that century, 
however, was the danger from Afghanistan and the Durani 
Empire. The Emperor, Shah Zeman, was constantly threaten- 
ing another invasion, and half India looked for him to help 
drive the English to the sea. For many centuries the men of 
the North had poured into Hindustan at will, and for the last 
fifty years the Duranis had been struggling with the Mahrattas 



74 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

for the source of power. Russia and Afghanistan together 
therefore had long loomed large, and these facts should be 
borne in mind when we try to gauge the impressions of the 
day. In those early years of the nineteenth century, too, our 
activities in Persia had been considerable, directed, above all 
things, to countering the French interest and ambition. The 
constant wars between the Afghans and the Sikhs and the 
requirements of commerce in opening up the navigation of 
the Indus all combined to make us sensitive, even so far back 
. as the thirties, to the trend of events in Afghanistan and beyond. 
In 1837 Mahomed Shah, the Shah-in-Shah of Persia, sent 
a large army to conquer Herat, with Russian officers attached 
to it. Shah Kamran, the Viceroy of the Province, one of the 
few of the original blood royal of Kabul, determined to hold 
the city, and embarked on a defence which lasted from Novem- 
ber, 1837, to September, 1838, when a threat of a British 
expedition in the Persian Gulf, and the persistence of the 
defence, into which Eldred Pottinger had so opportunely 
dropped, caused the Persians to raise the siege. In 1836 Captain 
Alexander Burnes proceeded to Sind and Kabul on a diplo- 
matic and commercial mission. Friendly though his reception 
at Kabul was, nothing definite resulted, and there was also 
present one Nikovitch, an energetic young Russian avant- 
courier. Eventually the failure of Burnes' mission, the attack 
by the Persians on Herat, and a desire to create a strong and 
friendly Afghanistan, resulted in the treaty between the British, 
Runjhit Singh, Maharajah of the Sikhs, and Shah Shujah, the 
exiled ruler of Kabul, to place the latter on the throne of his 
fathers as an ally and protege of the British. 

How the British Army crawled from Ferozepore on the Sutlej, 
where it had assembled, down the Indus to Sukkhur, up the 
Bolan to Quetta, and thence to Kandahar, hampered by want 
of carriage, immense baggage, and cholera, may be read in 
any history of the time. Once in the granary and fruit garden 
of Kandahar, the now united forces from Bengal and Bombay 
recovered from the fatigues and disasters of their journey, 



THE FIRST AFGHAN WAR 75 

while the exiled King was by way of taking over his new pro- 
vinces. The next stage was the advance on Kabul, in which 
the capture of the historic fortress of Ghuzni by a coup de main 
was a brilliant episode. During the whole of the long circuitous 
route from the borders of the Punjab to Kabul the storming 
of Ghuzni was the only important military action, though there 
had been skirmishes and harassments galore. 

The Army of the Indus, as the force was called, started from 
Ferozepore in December — 9,500 fighting men, 38,000 followers, 
and 30,000 camels. The baggage of the officers was immense, 
while the military authorities had no knowledge of how to 
reduce it. It was the end of April before the force reached 
Kandahar, having been joined at Sukkhur by a force from 
Bombay. With the Army had advanced also the Shah's Con- 
tingent, a force hastily raised in the northern cantonments of 
India from indifferent material, commanded by British officers 
lent to the Shah's service. It was not till the first week in 
August, 1839, that the Shah and Sir John Keane arrived at 
Kabul. Dost Mahomed, usually termed "the Dost," the popu- 
lar elected ruler of Afghanistan, fled, abandoning a large park 
of artillery, while the Shah re-entered his capital and the 
palace fort of the Bala Hissar, from which his subjects had 
expelled him some years before. 

The object of the expedition had therefore been attained. 
The Shah sat on the throne of his fathers. His Contingent 
garrisoned his capital and his outposts, and had been increased 
by enlistments of his own subjects. But it was not possible 
to abandon him to his own resources. The methods of an 
Afghan ruler to those who belonged to opposing factions alone 
tied our hands. While we were there we could not acquiesce 
in Afghan methods. Yet if we foist an unpopular ruler on a 
turbulent people, and are too nice to let him strengthen his 
position by the only means he and his enemies recognise, we 
must take the consequences. The consequences were that for 
many reasons we could not abandon the Shah to his own 
resources, nor could we avoid appearing the real wielders of 



76 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

sovereignty. We reduced the costly army of occupation, but 
still had to garrison the country with our own troops. A British 
retrenchment force escorted the whole of the Shah's large female 
establishment across the Punjab and up the Khaiber to Kabul, in- 
cluding the old blind Emperor, Shah Zeman, the father of Shah 
Shujah. Perhaps of all the actions of that time, the one we can least 
understand was the despatch also of the families of our own 
officers and men to Kabul. Right across the alien and increas- 
ingly hostile Punjab, up the Khaiber and subsequent passes to 
Kabul itself, went the British ladies with their nurses, and 
their babies, and their pianos, to the new cantonment at Kabul, 
and with them the families of the British and native soldiers, 
all by way of adding to the activity and mobility of a force 
isolated by several hundred miles of difficult roads from our 
own territory. To us in these days, who will not allow ladies 
even into our frontier posts, the arrangement is astounding. 
However, so it was. During the remainder of 1839 and through 
1840 the surface was calm, and our officers at Kandahar, at 
Ghuzni, and at Kabul, lived the life of a cantonment as if they 
had been in distant Hindustan and on very friendly terms with 
the Afghan. We read in Sir Neville Chamberlain's Life, of officers 
of the Ghuzni garrison riding into Kabul for the Christmas 
festivities, or for the races, as if it had been Poona or Meerut. 
In 1 84 1 the situation had become more openly menacing. 
The principal forces in Afghanistan were Elphinstone's brigade 
at Kabul, and Nott's at Kandahar, with the Contingent scat- 
tered about the province, chiefly round Kabul, and in the 
Kohistan or mountain tracts north of Kabul. The year had 
begun with everything couleur de rose. The Dost, after an 
unsuccessful incursion into the Kohistan, had surrendered 
and had been sent to an honourable captivity in India. Towards 
the summer, however, risings began to break out, each month 
growing more perplexing. The Ghilzais between Kabul and 
Jalalabad were especially warlike. There was no regular line 
of communication between Kabul and Peshawur, though posts 
of Khaiber " Rangers," the forerunners of the Khaiber " Rifles" 



THE FIRST AFGHAN WAR 77 

of to-day, were dotted along it. Now and again forces moving 
in relief marched up the road, and stores came through by 
contract with Ghilzai camel-owners. Sale, with the 13th and 
other troops, was due to return to India, and it was decided 
to send him to tackle the Ghilzais. In October, i84i,Monteath 
and Broadfoot moved out on the Jalalabad road, and were 
shortly joined by Sale with the 13th and other troops. 

For a whole month this force marched, halted, and fought 
with the Ghilzais between Kabul and Jalalabad, with no great 
success, suffering considerably in the process. All the snipers 
from Snipersville congregated along the line of march. The 
force marched by the southerly route of the Khurd Kabul and 
Jagdallak Passes, arriving at Jalalabad on November 12th. About 
November 8th a report of the serious trouble that had broken 
out in Kabul reached them, with the news of the murder of 
Sir Alexander Burnes and several others (including Broadfoot's 
brother). Sale at this time received orders to return to Kabul, 
but in view of the extreme fatigues of the passage through the 
passes, the difficulty of supply on the road back, and the debili- 
tated state of his transport, he decided that this was impossible, 
and that he must move on to Jalalabad. His rearguard had 
been pursued and harassed right up to the walls of that town, 
into which he decided to move, after examination of its defences, 
on the next day. 

The force that actually arrived at Jalalabad and constituted 
the "Illustrious Garrison" was as follows: 

H.M. 13th Light Infantry — Colonel Dennie. 
35th Bengal Native Infantry — Colonel Monteath. 
Detachment Bengal Artillery — Captain Abbott. 
Squadron 5th Cavalry — Captain Oldfield. 
Shah's Mountain Train — Captain Backhouse. 
Shah's Sappers — Captain Broadfoot. 1 
Troop 2nd Shah's Cavalry — Lieut. Mayne. 
Shah's Jezailchis (200) — Jan Fishan Khan. 

1 Largely composed of Hazaras, the Tartars in the uplands beyond Ghuzni, 
who still enlist in our Hazara Pioneers. 



78 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

This force had no supplies, only 150 rounds ball ammunition 
per rifle, and had no base or line of communications to feed it. 
What it could take by force, or purchase for money, was all 
it had to live on. It was not, therefore, to be wondered at that 
its commander hesitated to return to Kabul. Captain Havelock, 
of the 13th, was the brigade-major and Captain MacGregor 
of the Bengal Artillery was political officer. 

The town of Jalalabad lies perhaps a half of the way between 
Peshawur and Kabul. Coming up through the Khaiber Pass, 
the country opens out to some extent into the plains of Ningra- 
har, before the road to Kabul enters the fearsome defiles of the 
Lataband, Seh Baba, and Khurd Kabul Passes. Jalalabad stands 
on the Kabul river near where the Kunar river from Chitral 
joins the former. North of the town lie the mountains of 
Kafiristan, that land of fable from which Sir George Scott 
Robinson has lifted the veil in modern times and destroyed 
romance. For long had the world dreamed of an isolated race 
descended of Alexander's Greeks; and it was only a dream. 
With the exploration of Kafiristan and the penetration of a 
British force into Lhassa have disappeared, perhaps, the last 
two fairy-stories of Asia. Any that may remain will come from 
the storehouses of Khotan and the researches of Dr. Stein. 
However that may be, the Kafiristan hills, that land of a strange 
race that knows not Islam nor Indra, look down from the north 
on Jalalabad, while to the south towers the huge snow line of 
the Sufaid Koh. West lies Kabul, and east lies India. 

Jalalabad is a walled town, with curtains and bastions of 
sun-dried mud bricks, plastered with mud and chopped straw, 
a material only possible where rains are but seasonal. Round 
the town stretched gardens and orchards, also surrounded with 
crumbling town, the relics of a day when Mogul and Durani 
Emperors pitched their camp there during a passage through 
their dominions. Apples, apricots, and peaches grew in some 
profusion ; the almond-tree flourished and the vineyards yielded 
heavily. As Kabul lost its touch with India, Jalalabad lost its 
importance, and its gardens fell into ruin. Outside the walls, 



THE FIRST AFGHAN WAR 79 

old tombs of dead nobles crumbled to decay, willow-trees 
grew on the irrigation cuts, and clumps of Lombardy poplars 
edged the approaches. It was a difficult place to defend with 
the area outside the walls so encumbered. 

Such, however, was the engineering problem before Captain 
George Broadfoot, of the Madras Infantry, commandant of 
the Shah's Sappers, more generally known as Broadfoot's 
Sappers, and field engineer to Sale's Brigade. In addition to 
the obstacles and enclosures referred to, an old wall lay out- 
side the town, and had collected that ever-shifting sand which 
is so marked a feature of the Suliman range and its valleys. 
High sandhills at a range of from 500 to 1,000 yards had thus 
been formed to the west and south-west. The Afghans at once 
attempted to invest the town from this side while a piper played 
for them on one of the sandhills. A sortie was successful, and 
obtained a fortnight's quiet, which enabled Broadfoot to work 
at the defences and MacGregor to collect supplies from any 
who would sell. 

All November the brigade rested and worked at the defences 
till, on the 28th, the enemy closed and had to be driven off by 
another sortie. During the month rumours of more trouble 
and of a capitulation at Kabul were rife. In December little 
occurred save that Colonel Wild, with a brigade of sepoy bat- 
talions, reached Peshawur, the said Peshawur, be it remem- 
bered, being many hundred miles across a semi-hostile country 
from the British frontier at Ferozepore. At the very end of 
December came rumours of the murder of Sir William Mac- 
naghten, the Envoy. 

On January 9th, three Achakzai horsemen arrived with an 
order from General Elphinstone to quit Jalalabad and march 
to Peshawur. As Akbar Kkan, who was investing them, had 
issued proclamations to all the tribes to attack them, Sale 
refused to budge without further instructions. Up in Kabul 
the murders, first of Sir Alexander Burnes in his house in 
the city, and later of the Envoy at a meeting with Afghan 
chiefs, had thrown the garrison of Kabul into a terrible state. 



8o VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

Commanded by an aged, bedridden General, with the senior 
officers under him at loggerheads, vacillation and pusillanimity 
brought a British army to humiliation never before experienced. 
The authorities at Kabul signed an agreement to withdraw from 
the country in the height of a snowy winter. The horror and 
the pity of it come afresh to every one who reads the tale anew. 
By no writer has it been so powerfully or so pitifully described 
as by the author of the Judgment of the Sword. 1 

Sale, knowing that the Kabul force was expecting to come 
to Jalalabad, decided that he would wait and unite with them 
rather than march ahead. It was argued at Jalalabad that a 
commander who capitulates can only do so for the troops under 
his immediate orders. While thus thinking and waiting, the 
end of the tragedy came to pass. One afternoon, January 13th, 
officers at the gate of Jalalabad saw a solitary horseman advanc- 
ing on a staggering horse. It was Dr. Brydon, the only sur- 
vivor of Elphinstone's brigade, which had been cut to pieces 
and destroyed in the passes: 4,500 British and Indian soldiers, 
12,000 followers, and an incubus of women and children be- 
yond compute. They had marched out of Kabul into the bitter 
snow, and, with the exception of a few prisoners, had perished. 
To this day even their bones lie unburied in the Khurd Kabul 
and Jagdallak Passes and were visible to our armies in 1878-80. 

Lady Butler has painted the scene and caught the atmos- 
phere. Everyone knows "The Remnant of an Army," poor 
Brydon in his sheepskin coat and his staggering pony — Brydon, 
who was to have his full share of stress and strain, for he was 
later to form part of the original garrison of the Residency at 
Lucknow. A few years ago, when the author of The Judgment 
of the Sword was writing The Hero of Herat it fell to the present 
writer to accord the concurrence of the Commander-in-Chief 
in India to her being supplied with copies of certain docu- 
ments in the Indian Records. The file of records, beautifully 
arranged, was full of old faded letters. It was as though half 
the ghosts in India had walked through the room. There was 

1 Maud Diver. 



THE FIRST AFGHAN WAR 8l 

a letter from Lady Sale at Kabul to her husband at Jalalabad 
to the effect that that "rotten ass Macnaghten had had his 
throat cut, and if the old fools in Kabul had their way the 
same would happen to all of them." Lady Sale was something 
of an old soldier, and had a way of expressing herself frankly. 
Then there was a letter from MacGregor, the political officer 
at Jalalabad, to Lawrence or Wild to the effect that "a certain 
Dr. Brydon had just ridden in wounded and near dead with 
fatigue and somewhat incoherent, but it would appear that 
some terrible disaster had occurred," in which guess he was 
certainly right. 

So on January 13th the fat was in the fire. Sir Robert Sale 
was very much on his own responsibility as the sole representa- 
tive of British power in Northern Afghanistan, with his wife 
and daughters in the hands of the enemy or dead in the snow. 

In 1888 appeared The Career of Major George Broadfoot, C.B., 
by Major William Broadfoot, R.E., which revived old contro- 
versies, and probably for the first time put the true history of 
the "Illustrious Garrison" in a clear manner. That garrison 
was invested and attacked for three months, when it finally 
took heart of grace, and on April 7th sallied forth and heavily 
fell on the Afghan army, capturing their guns and raising the 
siege. A few days later, the avenging army under Pollock, 
having forced the Khaiber, arrived at Jalalabad to find the 
garrison free men. 

Now the story of how the British troops came to remain at 
that place is full of psychological interest to those who study 
military character, and can separate the issues that are before 
them. The night after Brydon had staggered in, Broadfoot, as 
garrison engineer, went to Sale and urged that unless he was 
prepared to defend the place to the last and take full measures 
therefor, he should retreat that night. Sale, relying on help 
from Wild, wrote to the Commander-in-Chief in India that 
he intended to hold out to the last, and urged early relief. A 
few days later Wild failed in his attempt to force the Khaiber 
and Sale became appalled at the gravity of the situation. On 



82 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

January 26th, he and Captain MacGregor summoned a council 
of war to hear a scheme they had prepared for an evacuation 
of Jalalabad under convention with the Afghans. It should be 
said that the news of the disasters had paralysed the Governor- 
General and his Government at Calcutta, and Sale believed 
that no one would stir a ringer to help them or rescue the 
prisoners, among whom were most of the English ladies who 
had been in Kabul. 

Broadfoot alone bitterly and violently opposed the proposal, 
urging a defence to the bitter end. He was at first reproached 
with his impossible attitude, and the council adjourned. Meeting 
again, Broadfoot still stood his ground, and soon Oldfield, of 
the Cavalry, followed by Backhouse, of the Artillery, supported 
him. The question of giving hostages helped to clinch matters. 
Eventually Dennie and Abbott came to the same view, and 
Sale was persuaded at last to yield to the bolder course. Broad- 
foot at once set to work vigorously on a ditch round the walls, 
and shortly came news from Peshawur that every effort would 
be made to come to their assistance. It was due to the strong 
character of Broadfoot that the council of war determined to 
adopt that course which redounded so much to their honour 
and so prominently helped to maintain some remnant of British 
prestige. The council did not finally dissolve till February 12th, 
by which time the defences were getting into excellent order. 
Mayne, the leader of the troop of the 2nd Shah's Horse, had 
captured a number of sheep and cattle, and the spirits of the 
force rose considerably. 

Sale's attitude at this juncture is specially interesting because 
it shows him to have been, like so many good soldiers of our 
own and other armies, excellent as a subordinate leader, but 
quite unfit for supreme command, and paralysed when called 
on to assume responsibility and display initiative. Sturdy 
courage and obedience to instructions is a characteristic of 
such men, who are among the most reliable assets in an army 
— so long as their limitations be known. Our history teems 
with examples of them and their success when subordinate, 



THE FIRST AFGHAN WAR 83 

and of their failure when supreme. He was, further, by no 
means a young man, and had already served for two and a 
half years in the country and taken part in numerous actions. 
All through the defence he displayed considerable want of 
initiative, allowing his forage-parties to be driven in every 
day, to the great detriment of his animal establishment and 
to the discontent of his officers. 

February dragged on, with the news that Lord Ellenborough, 
the new Governor-General, had arrived, and that Pollock was 
at Peshawur, but gave no sign. On February 19th occurred 
the great earthquake. The earth rolled and heaved like the 
ocean, and the whole of the rebuilt walls and bastions were 
shattered completely, and, what was perhaps worse, a number 
of sheep killed. Nothing daunted, however, Broadfoot and his 
wonderful corps of fighting sappers set to work with the regi- 
mental working-parties to rebuild. Happily, the Afghans failed 
to seize their opportunity. As a matter of fact that failure was 
due to the extraordinary promptitude with which Broadfoot 
repaired the apparently appalling disaster to his works. The 
mud walls at which he had worked so hard lay in heaps ! Prob- 
ably by the next morning the more visible parts were standing 
again, complete in their front face, so that to the Afghan recon- 
noitrers it appeared that they had never fallen. A miracle had 
happened! Providence seemed to be on the side of the un- 
believers. That alone was enough to destroy the elan of the 
superstitious besiegers. In all Ningrahar and Lughman 
the walls of Jalalabad alone stood ! Well might they say with 
the Jews on Holy Cross day: 

" Thou art the Judge. We are bruised thus. 
But, the Judgment over, join sides with us." 

It was after this loss of sheep that the 35th offered to give up 
their share of a fresh capture of sheep to the Europeans. 

Towards the end of March it was believed that the Afghans 
were undermining the walls from the shelter of some of the 



84 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

old enclosures, and a sortie was made in which Broadfoot was 
severely wounded. All during March, Pollock was at Peshawur, 
heartening up and re- disciplining the demoralised sepoys of 
Wild's Brigade, of whom he found 1,800 in hospital. In vain 
did the garrison look for Pollock's arrival. With the best inten- 
tion in the world he could not face the forcing of the Khaiber 
till his European reinforcements came up. At last the garrison 
took matters into its own hands and sallied forth to attack 
Akbar Khan. The immediate provocation was the firing of a 
salute by the latter in honour of a defeat of Pollock, said to 
have just occurred. The garrison, then and there, demanded 
to be led against the enemy. It was sick of a passive defence, 
sick of rarely even being allowed to issue to seize the enemy's 
flocks which grazed almost within musket-shot of the defences. 
Sale, who resisted the demand for a sortie, finally gave way. 
The British emerged from their defences and drove the Afghans 
from various forts and enclosures, finally capturing Akbar Khan's 
camp three miles distant from the town and recovering two of 
the guns lost by Elphinstone's column. Colonel Dennie, com- 
manding the 13th, a stout old fighting man, was killed, and the 
13th lost considerably. The garrison thus achieved its own 
immediate relief and had no difficulty in getting supplies. 
When, on April 16th, Pollock's force arrived they found a free 
garrison waiting to receive them, with their bands playing " Oh, 
but you've been lang a-coming!" with a pretty irony. 

From November to April, Sale's force had succeeded in 
keeping the flag flying, despite the croaking on the part of 
many that seems so inseparable from any of our ventures in 
the Afghan hills. Far away on the south, Nott, at Kandahar, 
had been doing the same, but being away from the hampering 
control of Macnaghten and Elphinstone he had not felt the 
evil influence of their folly and their appalling end. It is now 
universally recognised that to George Broadfoot of all others 
did the garrison owe the fame that it achieved, though naturally 
all who had counselled capitulation were only too anxious to 
forget their share in opposing a policy that had stood them in 









jfr,T0Q K 


^1 - - 4 




■ ,'-'■■'" 







Field-Marshal Sir George Pollock, G.C.B., G. C.S.I. 
(From an engraving by courtesy of A. Pollock, Esq.) 



[Face page 84 



THE FIRST AFGHAN WAR 85 

such stead. Sale, of course, received full measure of praise, 
but it was not grudged to his subordinates, Broadfoot receiving 
a brevet and a C.B. 

The story of the "Illustrious Garrison " is now told, and it 
is not necessary to follow Pollock in his avenging career, nor 
the rescue of the prisoners, nor to mourn the loss of Ghuzni, 
nor rejoice with stout old Nott at Kandahar. 

There are many striking sidelights in the history of this 
war that are still of great interest. It is on record that the 44th 
Foot had been notorious for the contempt with which it had 
regarded its comrades, both officers and men, of the Company's 
Army, and indeed the natives of India generally. It was always 
on bad terms with its own native establishment, and it was 
pleased to call the native troops of the Company "black regi- 
ments" — which was bad manners and extremely shortsighted. 
Now the 13th, as we have seen, was on very good terms with 
natives generally, and the Sepoy army in particular. Bitterly 
had the 44th reaped the crop it had sown, and cheerfully had 
the i3th's chickens come home to roost. The same has been 
noticed often enough in Indian wars, the success that attended 
the operations of British and Sepoy units when camaraderie 
was rife, and the ill success when it has been conspicuous by 
its absence. At one time it was the fashion of certain corps to 
talk of "black regiments." The habit is dead, or almost dead. 
The intense good feeling that pervaded the relationship between 
the two services in the Afghan war of 1878-80 killed it for 
good and all. The World War has thrice emphasized the 
entente. 

An interesting episode of the First Afghan campaign was 
the display at Ferozepore in 1838, where the army of the Indus 
met the Sikh army, and Lord Auckland, the then Governor- 
General, and Rinjhit Singh, reviewed their respective armies. 
From the officers' diaries that are extant we have references 
to the European freelances in the service of Rinjhit Singh. 
These varied from the generals, such as Avitabile, Allard, and 
Ventura, to the lesser lights who commanded corps, the latter 



86 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

rather ragamuffin people dressed in the borrowed trappings 
of Europe. Avitabile, it may be remembered, was governor of 
Peshawur, just a governor after its own heart, who always had 
a corpse a-swinging on the open gallows outside the fort, and 
his own house to show all comers that he understood first 
principles. Among these gentlemen was Colonel Gardner, the 
famous Gordana Sahib, who, an American, 1 came into India 
from Central Asia after an exciting period in the Khanates. He 
ended his life at Jammoo, where he had long been commandant 
of Ghulab Singh's and Ranbir Singh's artillery, and chief caster 
of cannon to the State of Kashmir. He could never eat or drink 
without clamping together the severed sinews of his throat, due 
to a sword slash, and in his old age always received visitors in 
a complete suit of the tartan of Cameron of Erracht, in which 
he was presented to our late King on his visit to Jammoo. His 
letters from "Brahminy Bull" to "John Bull," at the time of 
the Mutiny, are models of shrewd comment. 

Another interesting incident was the Institution of "The 
Order of the Durani Empire," an order of Knights and Com- 
panions with which Shah Shujah inaugurated his re-ascent of 
the throne of his fathers, and with which many of the senior 
soldiers and all the political officers were decorated at Kabul, 
while the Army scoffed once again. When the Durani Empire 
proper perished by the sword two years later, the Government 
of India recalled the decoration from the recipients. Several 
of them, however, had passed to widows and heirs and are 
still extant. The badge of the order consisted of a gold Maltese 
cross with crossed swords between the ends of the cross. The 
centre consisted of green and blue enamel surrounded by a 
circle of pearls and the Persian inscription " Dur-i-Dauran" 
"Pearls of the Age," in reference to the supposed derivation 
of Durani. Tancred's Historical Record of Medals contains an 
engraving of the decoration. 

The medals given for the defence of Jalalabad are distinct 
from those given for the rest of the campaign. The Governor- 
1 Other accounts of a deserter from the Bengal Artillery. 



THE FIRST AFGHAN WAR 87 

General issued a medal bearing a mural crown on one side and 
the inscription "Jellalabd VII April" 1 on the other. This, 
however, was disapproved of at Home, and in its place a second 
issued, having a head of the Queen on the obverse and the 
inscription " Victoria Vindex" and an effigy of Victory in the 
air on the reverse. Very few of the recipients returned theirs 
for exchange, preferring, apparently, the original one. The 
attribute " Vindex" or "Avenger" should be noticed as differing 
from the original Regina. This was common to all the medals 
for the second phase of the campaign after the Kabul massacres. 
These two medals, as were all the Vindex medals, were worn 
with a rainbow ribbon, designed by Lord Elienborough, to 
represent the rising sun. The triumphal arches at the Ferozepore 
bridge of boats for Pollock's returning army were decorated 
with the same colours. This ribbon was revived for the bronze 
star that commemorated Lord Roberts' famous march from 
Kabul to Kandahar. 

Such in brief is the story of Jalalabad and its " Illustrious 
Garrison " which kept the flag flying at a time when it so sorely 
needed support. Alas! so many of its survivors were in due 
course to die a soldier's death. The two Sikh wars saw the 
deaths of many, and those who survived mostly fell in 1857. 
Gallant George Broadfoot fell at Ferozeshah while carrying a 
message for Lord Harding. 2 Stout old Sir Robert Sale fell at 
Moodkee. Havelock and Henry Lawrence survived to save 
India and die at their posts in '57. Sic transit gloria mundi. 

1 Jellalabad is now spelt more accurately with an " a." 
2 See p. 129: The Sikh Wars, 



VII 

THE GWALIOR WAR 

Maharajpore and Punniar 
December 29th, 1843 

Those who are conversant with the War Medals of the 
British Army are familiar with two five-pointed bronze stars 
each with a silver centre on which is inscribed "Maharajpore," 
or "Punniar" respectively, and which is spoken of generally 
as the "Gwalior Star." The stars are suspended by a rainbow 
ribbon, like that of the Afghan medals, known as the " military 
ribbon of India." But even those familiar with the star know 
little of the story, so that some account of it may be of interest. 
That is to say, how two pitched battles at Maharajpore and 
Punniar came to be fought near Gwalior on the same day 
twelve miles apart in the heart of British India, so recently 
as 1843, and what Sir Hugh Gough, Lord Ellenborough, the 
Governor -General, and the boy Sindiah had to do with it. 
It came about in this wise. The country was settling down to 
peace and prosperity after the shock and strain of the wars 
in Afghanistan. The avenging army under General Pollock 
had returned from Kabul, with the escaped prisoners, and 
General Nott's army. The war-stained troops had defiled 
through the almost openly hostile Punjab, Lord Ellenborough 
had received them at Ferozepore on a field of the cloth of gold, 
and men were forgetting the tragedies and recriminations of 
the episode. The Governor- General was busy at plans for 
the improved government of the land, and save for the rattle 
of the sabre in the scabbard in the land of the Five Rivers, 
which Government could not help hearing, all was peace. 

88 



THEGWALIORWAR 89 

Early in the year, it is true, there had been some desperate 
fighting in Sind between the old war hound "Charlie Napier" 
and the Amirs of that land, but under his vigorous and original 
military government, the newly acquired territories were fast 
settling down. South of the Sutlej in the great peninsula of 
Hindostan all was apparent peace, and the British had held 
undisputed sway for nearly half a century. 

On February 7th, 1843, died Junkojee Rao Sindiah, without 
heir. For forty years, ever since Lake and Wellesley had 
crushed the French trained armies that De Boigne and Perron 
had raised for Daulut Rao, the ruler of Gwalior, known always 
by the title of Sindiah, there had been friendship between 
the Company's Government and that State. When Junkojee 
Rao died childless, he left a widow, Tara Bye, aged thirteen. 
To her, Government accorded the privilege of adopting a 
relative as heir, after the custom of the Hindus. This, however, 
failed to secure peace, for there were two claimants for the 
office of regent. These were the Mama Sahib, or maternal 
uncle of the late ruler, and Dada Khasjeewala, the State 
treasurer, generally known, to the delight of the British soldiery, 
as the Mama and the Dada. Intrigue followed intrigue, and 
the Governor- General selected the former as regent, while 
the widow and her faction favoured the Dada. In the redoubled 
intrigues for which such a situation was so suited, the powerful 
army delighted to share. This army consisted of 30,000 regular 
soldiers, horse and foot, and 10,000 light horsemen, with a large 
park of artillery. It possessed many of the habits, and much of 
the organisation and tradition of the French and Italian officers 
of the days of De Boigne, and it was a powerful weapon for evil 
in bad hands. The rank and file consisted, not of Mahrattas, 
although they were the ruling race, but of the martial races of 
Mewat, Rajputana and Oude, the latter that race of hereditary 
soldiers, who, since the disappearance of the old Hindu king- 
doms, had served any master in search of a staunch soldiery. 

In the wars of the Marquis Wellesley, the Mahrattas had 
appealed to the Sikhs, by reason of the common Hinduism of 



90 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

their faiths, to stand by them against the British, while at the 
time of Maharajpore, the Sikhs were ever preaching to the 
Mahrattas the need for joining them in a common cause against 
the British. With 40,000 turbulent soldiery in the very heart 
of Hindustan and British India, and the Sikhs spoiling for a 
fight, there was good enough reason for anxiety in the Govern- 
ment of India, and for the assembly of an army of exercise 
near Agra, ready to become a field force if need be. The actual 
trend of events which brought our Government to a pass so 
foreign to their wishes were briefly as follows. All the rains 
and autumn the situation had been boiling up. The Dada's 
party, supported by the army and the Queen Mother, opposed 
the Mama in every way, the Dada refusing the honourable 
mission which would have removed him, of taking dead 
Sindiah's ashes to the Ganges. The Ranee, through the agency 
of the inevitable clever slave girl, was intriguing also with the 
troops. This lady the Resident deported, on a pension; but the 
situation was out of hand, and the Mama knew not how to grasp 
the nettle danger with the hand courage, and it may be remarked 
that the Residents presence must have weakened him, since the 
Mahratta methods of easing the situation, with the cup, the dagger 
and the bowstring must have been to a great extent denied him. 
The Ranee, suddenly attempted a coup d'etat and reported 
to the Resident that she had dismissed the Regent, viz., the 
Mama. But as the Mama had proved so unfit to rule with 
the bowdlerised methods at his disposal, the Governor- General 
did not support him, although it was necessary for the Resident 
to mark his displeasure at the insult to our nominee, by leaving 
the Court of Gwalior. The Dada then attempted to take the 
helm, and rallied to himself all who were disaffected to the 
English. But the army, grown mutinous and headstrong, became 
a third and independent factor. The Ranee, now badly frightened, 
and with no Resident to lean on, prayed the Governor-General 
to send him back. Lord Ellenborough demanded that the Dada 
should be handed over to him in custody, which was refused. 
However, one party did succeed in confining him. He escaped 



THE GWALIOR WAR 91 

and, having improved his position by placating the army with 
money, for the moment became stronger than ever. On 
November 1st, the Governor-General reviewed the whole 
situation, which a recent sanguinary revolution and subsequent 
unrest in the Punjab rendered crucial. He then repaired to 
Agra, to which place the Resident urged the Ranee to send 
the Dada to meet him. As, however, there were no signs of 
his arrival, Lord Ellenborough ordered the advance on Gwalior 
of Sir Hugh Gough's army of exercise from Agra and Muttra, 
and also of a force under Sir John Grey who commanded the 
Division of the Nerbudda, from the direction of Saugor. It 
was, above all things, necessary to re-establish British authority 
at Gwalior, for the Mahrattas and the Sikhs together could 
muster 120,000 regular soldiers, and 500 cannon. The Governor- 
General announced that the march of the British force would 
not be stayed till complete order at Gwalior was restored. 

The move and this despatch, as may be imagined, caused 
some consternation at Gwalior, and the now unfortunate Dada 
was sent in to the British as a prisoner. The Governor- General 
said, however, that he should advance till he had some guarantee 
that all disturbance or fear of disturbance was at an end. The 
Ranee then offered to come to the Governor- General with 
the young Sindiah, and it was decided to meet them at Hingonah. 
On December 21st, 1843, the leading British brigade crossed 
the Chumbal, followed by the Governor- General's camp, and 
by the 25th the whole of the right wing, viz., the force under 
Sir Hugh Gough, was concentrated at Hingonah. During all 
this time the army of exercise had little idea that good fortune 
could lead to a fight. They were all out for an outing at the 
most delightful time of the year, practically Christmas week 
in camp, and there were four ladies with the Governor-General's 
party, viz., Lady Gough and her youngest daughter, Mrs. 
Curtis, and the famous Juanita, of Peninsula fame, the wife 
of Sir Harry Smith — fairly conclusive proof that actual hostilities 
were not very probable. There is a well-known print of the 
passage of the Chumbal by the army, drawn by Captain Young, 



92 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

of the Bengal Engineers. It is a wonderful study of perspective, 
column after column fording the river, long trains of bullock 
trackeries, and the twenty yoke of the heavy guns, camels, 
doolies, staff officers, commissaries, crowding down to the 
flats below the river cliff. On the opposite bank can be seen 
the army ascending as it crosses, while downstream more 
columns are crossing in boats. Except that the heights on the 
opposite bank are exaggerated, it is no doubt an excellent 
presentation of the actual scene. 

From the 23rd to the 26th, the army was crossing the Chumbal 
and assembling at Hingonah, where it was expected the Ranee 
and the young Maharajah would meet the Governor- General, 
who had accompanied the army. By the 25th, however, it was 
known that the Mahratta army, now entirely out of hand, would 
not allow the Ranee to come, and it was decided to advance 
on Gwalior. Orders were sent to Sir John Grey, who had 
been assembling his force at Jhansi and Koonch, to cross the 
Sinde and move on that place. It was now reported 
that the Gwalior army had advanced from the capital to meet 
the British, and communication with Sir John Grey was inter- 
rupted before any acknowledgment of the orders to advance 
could be received. Sir Hugh Gough has been criticised for 
his plans in dividing his army and thereby exposing either 
wing to the full weight of the enemy's concentrated forces. 
The Commander-in-Chief, however, always stated that he 
recognised the possible danger, but that the other advantages 
and the military value of the enemy, had decided him to 
disregard it. In war it is permissible to break some of the 
simple strategical rules if you know the dangers you incur, 
and are ready to counteract them. In this case Sir Hugh Gough 
admitted that he had much under-rated the fighting value of 
the enemy, who put up a most disciplined and determined 
fight, without, however, any power of manoeuvre. 

The Governor- General decided to move forward from 
Hingonah, and on December 28th, Sir Hugh Gough with his 
divisional and brigade commanders, suitably escorted, rode 



THE GWALIOR WAR 93 

forward to view the ground, and his quartermaster-general, 
Colonel Garden, executed a military reconnaissance. The 
Mahratta army was found to be drawn up on the near bank of 
the river Ahsin, a stream whose banks were intersected with 
steep ravines on either side. The Mahratta strength was not 
known, but Sir Harry Smith writes that in this reconnaissance 
he saw lines of contiguous columns. 

It will now be as well to understand the order of battle, an 
old expression from the French, still in use, which means the 
detail of the forces engaged. Unfortunately we have not the 
Mahratta order of battle. The names of the regiments would 
be interesting and give some trace of De Boigne, who founded the 
army. Colonels Baptiste and Jacobs, till recently commanding, 
had with the other Europeans and Eurasians left the Mahrattas 
owing to their attitude towards the paramount power, and 
no doubt to the open hostility to the Christian which probably 
prevailed. We do not know if there were any such left in the 
opposing force, though we may be sure there were the usual 
barrack room yarns of deserters in the ranks. The Mahratta 
regiments had no doubt names similar to those in use among 
the Sikhs, and surviving to this day in the Kashmir army, 
which still show the traces of the old adventurers, who trained 
forces for the Indian States — the "Regiment of Victory," the 
"Lightning Battery," the "Gurkhas of the Sun," and such like. 

The order of the battle of the mainwing of the " Angrez" — as 
the English are to this day called in the Indian States, was com- 
posed as follows : 

The Right Wing (the force under the personal command of 
Sir Hugh Gough). 

Cavalry Division — Sir Joseph Thackwell 

yd Brigade (Brigadier Cureton), 16th Lancers, ist Bengal 
Light Cavalry, 4th Irregular Cavalry, The Governor- General's 
Body Guard, Lane's and Alexander's Troops of Bengal Horse 
Artillery, under Brigadier Gordon. Scott's Brigade — 4th Bengal 
Light Cavalry, 10th Bengal Light Cavalry, Grant's Troop of 
Horse Artillery, yrd Infantry Brigade (Major-General Valliant). 



94 vignettes from indian wars 

2nd Division — Major- General Dennis 

\ih Infantry Brigade (Brigadier Stacy), 14th Bengal Native 
Infantry, 31st Bengal Native Infantry, 43rd Bengal Light 
Infantry, with Browne's Field Battery (17th). 

3RD Division — Major- General Littler 

$th Infantry Brigade (Brigadier Wright), 39th Foot, 56th 
Bengal Native Infantry, with Saunders' Field Battery (10th). 

The Khelat-i-Ghilzai Regiment, and the 2nd Skinner's Horse 
also formed part of the force. 

It will be noticed how loosely the term division was applied, 
even to bodies consisting only of a weak infantry brigade, and 
a couple of batteries. 

After the reconnaissance of the 28th, the whole of Sir Hugh 
Gough's force marched in the early hours of the 29th across 
the ravines in front of Hingonah, to a rendezvous opposite 
the Mahratta position. When the hour came to advance the 
force was drawn up as follows: From right to left, Cureton's 
cavalry brigade, Valliant's infantry brigade, Dennis' division, 
and close in rear Littler's division and Scott's cavalry brigade. 
Sir Harry Smith wrote that this night march of approach was 
excellently carried out, and as he was an old staff officer of 
the Light Division, and very critical of bad staff work, we may 
be sure this was so. A night march over nullahs such as those 
in front of Hingonah was no easy matter. 

Soon after daylight the line advanced, the ladies riding on 
elephants near the leading columns, probably because anywhere 
in rear was in danger of incursions from the Mahratta horse. 
Suddenly a hot artillery fire was opened from the village of 
Maharajpore. It was the fashion to say in the army that the 
Commander-in-Chief was surprised. This he always denied, 
saying that he had expected Maharajpore to be held by an 
outpost, though not by the whole Mahratta army. In the 
night the enemy had moved up their line and their guns from 
Chunda village and the line of the River Ahsin, to the village 
of Maharajpore, and those adjacent. The British line halted 



THE GWALIOR WAR 95 

while a hasty fresh reconnaissance was made. The country in 
front of Maharajpore was covered with standing crops five to six 
feet high, and it was impossible to see far ahead. Lord Ellen- 
borough, writing to the Duke of Wellington, says: "Batteries 
kept getting up literally like coveys of partridges. " The Mahratta 
artillery kept opening a heavy fire from unexpected quarters. 

Littler's division was ordered to advance straight on Maharaj- 
pore, Wright's Infantry brigade, consisting of the 39th Queen's, 
and the 56th Bengal Native Infantry to storm the batteries 
there, Valliant's brigade to move on the right of Wright, and 
sweep round in rear, Cureton's Cavalry to prolong the turning 
movement. We are told that the 56th N.I. hung back, and 
did not keep up with the 39th Foot, and that the Commander- 
in-Chief, cried, "Will no one get that Sepoy regiment on," 
and how Havelock rode up and asked its name, and when 
told the 56th said, "No, no, its old name," and that he was 
told " Lambourne hi pultan." 1 Whereon he called to the Lam- 
bourne hi pultan to advance and preserve their name, which 
they then did readily enough. 

If the officers could not get their men on, he was no doubt 
justified, but it sounds more than tiresome of him. It may be 
remembered that his son did much the same to a British regiment 
in the Mutiny, during the advance to Cawnpore, thereby raising a 
controversy which lasts to this day. Since, however, the 56th 
blew up in the Great Mutiny, and were among the Cawnpore 
Mutineers, they have no credit left to defend. At any rate it may 
be remarked that it is as ill for an outsider to come between 
officers and their men, unless he be a general-in-command, as 
it is to interfere between man and wife. It was urged that the 
regiment lost ground by halting to take off their knapsacks. 

Be that as it may, the batteries at Maharajpore were stormed, 
in the teeth of a hail of grape, old horse shoes and any scrap 
iron with which the Mahrattas could cram their guns. The 
gunners fought and were bayoneted at their guns, and the 
brigade swept on towards the Ahsin. General Valliant's brigade, 

1 Lambourne 's Regiment. 



96 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

which had turned Maharajpore from the right, then wheeled 
to the left, and swept on past the rear of that village against 
Shikarpore, another defended hamlet. The 39th Queen's 
lost 30 killed and 196 wounded in thus storming the guns. It 
is a noticeable thing how the Eastern gunners, the gholandaz 
(hurlers of balls) have always died at their guns. Here, and in the 
Sikh Wars, as in the older wars, the artillerymen have fought 
till the bayonets closed on them, and the same spirit animated 
the mutineer gunners of our own artillery. The gun, absorbing 
as it does the interest of its crew, has a curious psychological 
effect. Zola, in his Debacle, dwells on the discipline that the 
French artillery retained in 1870 when the rest was chaos. So 
the artillerymen in the Maharajpore trenches died at their guns, 
and the British brigade swept on to the positions in rear, and 
the whole army of Gwalior after a stout resistance broke and 
fled incontinently. Cureton's cavalry brigade manoeuvring wide 
on the right should have accounted for many, had it not been 
brought up short by an impassable nullah, behind which a 
powerful Mahratta battery rained round shot on them, till 
the brigade drew off. The batteries at Maharajpore were 
tackled by ''Charley Grant Sahib" who galloped his light 
horse artillery guns in, through the standing corn to a range 
at which his metal could compete. It was the 2nd/3rd troop 
of Bengal Horse Artillery in the high crested helmets of that 
arm. The rest of the horse artillery was away on the right with 
Cureton, viz., Lane's and Alexander's troops under Brigadier 
Gordon. The recently revived rank of brigadier we see in 
use at this period. It was then applied to any officer under 
the rank of brigadier-general, who was in command of a body of 
troops consisting of one or more units. The officer commanding 
a station was "the brigadier," and, to this day in the un- 
changing East, the station staff officer is the brigad duftar. 

The various events as the different brigades flung themselves 
on Mahratta batteries with their said vomit of case shot, scrap 
iron and old horse shoes, are but sparsely recorded. That 
they must have been numerous and exciting we may assume 




*. fc 



■g< o 



.5? O 



ffi 



[Frttf />tfge 96 



THE GWALIOR WAR 97 

from the tally of killed and wounded. These totalled 790, 
including 6 officers and 100 men killed, and 34 officers, and 650 
men wounded, very largely by cannon shot and grape. The two 
Queen's battalions present, the 39th and 40th Foot, lost 24 killed 
and 160 wounded, and 30 killed and 196 wounded respectively. 
The 1 6th Grenadiers of the Bengal Line were especially distin- 
guished with 1 69 casualties. The cavalry losses were considerably 
less, though they lost many horses, presumably from round shot. 

Among the minor items young Luther Vaughan wrote that 
the Mahratta guns were painted blue and red, and records 
that the hospitals were a specially gruesome sight, chiefly 
owing, no doubt, to the round shot casualties. It is only from 
various memoirs and reminiscences that the events and items 
of the campaign can be culled. 

Before outlining the subsequent events, we may turn to 
the fortunes of Sir John Grey, advancing from the south. The 
Commander-in-Chief's orders had been safely received, and 
the Sinde River duly crossed. Sir John Grey's force consisted 
of the regular troops from Bundelcund, and the small existing 
contingent maintained by the State of Gwalior under treaty, and 
officered from the Company's army. It had been decided to avoid 
the difficult defile of the Antrim Ghat, and to advance past the 
fort of Himmutghar, which, however, contrary to belief, did 
actually command the proposed route. Fortunately the Mahrattas 
did not hold this fort, and Sir John Grey marched on unimpeded 
till he came to another army, drawn up in position at Punniar. 

Sir John Grey's wing of the army consisted of'H.M. 9th 
Lancers, the 8th Bengal Light Cavalry, the Buffs and the 50th 
Foot, and the 39th, 50th and 58th Bengal Native Infantry 
regiments. Of these latter defunct corps, the 50th has retained 
a faint grip on men's memory because at Nagode, in Bundelcund, 
it elected to mutiny after the fall of Delhi, and therefore after 
mutiny could no longer promise success. The story of Punniar 
is but briefly recorded. Like the battle of Maharajpore, and 
those of the Sikh wars, it had now become the custom to rely 
apparently on the mass of Sepoy redcoats, as but an awe- 



98 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

inspiring setting, chiefly because of the colour of their coats, 
and to hurl the Europeans straight at the hostile guns — a 
simple but deadly game. Simple because the guns were taken, 
deadly because they would belch much grape and canister 
before the surviving bayonets could get at the gunners. These 
bayonets rarely failed. It was better to die perhaps at the 
cannon's mouth than to rot in Kurnal, for those were the days 
of bad barracks and much rum. So great was the confidence 
of the old British line and the company's artillery in themselves, 
British generals in India were wont to call for their horse 
artillery troop and their British infantry to carry the serried 
line of heavy hostile guns. It needed little science and took 
little time. The British battalion of those days stood 1,200 
strong in their shakos and white crossbelts, and recked little 
of heaven or hell. The English soldier of those days was 
fostered in his huge contempt for the natives. In the Bengal 
Horse Artillery, the saddled horses would be brought to the 
barrack plinth, whence without so much as bending knee, the 
Irish gunner stepped into the saddle and looked down with 
contempt on all around — Irish, because, if you study the battle 
graves and the cholera monuments you will notice that all the 
English army of those days seemed to have Irish names. Whether 
that be only a coincidence or not, at any rate the British soldier 
had a fine fostered opinion of himself that made him very terrible 
under conditions that he understood. A long line of belching guns 
the other side of a cornfield was one of these conditions. 

So in accordance with the tradition of the day the Buffs 
and the 50th, with such Sepoy corps as could keep up went 
cog rdxio-ra into and over the batteries at Punniar and drove 
the Mahratta right wing to the four winds of heaven. Incident- 
ally they had 35 officers and men killed and 182 wounded, 
and continued their march to unite with the Commander-in- 
Chief, all of which is recorded in no special history, but may 
be gathered in the biographies of the chief actors, and in the 
regimental histories, and no doubt in correct descriptive, if 
dull, phraseology, in the despatches of the commanders. 



THE GWALIOR WAR 99 

From the 30th to New Year's Day Sir Hugh Gough and his 
wing halted near the battlefield. On the 2nd he marched on 
toward the rock of Gwalior, that huge pile of rock and fortifica- 
tion that rises out of the plain like a three decker on the ocean. 
Jamrud rises out of the plain near the mouth of the Khaiber 
like a modern battleship, grim and squat, but the Rock of 
Gwalior stands to the four winds like a 74 of the line. The 
right wing of the army reached the Mahratta capital on the 
3rd and Sir John Grey's force entered it on the 4th, but 
without any more fighting or signs of hostility. The Ranee 
and the boy Sindiah had duly met the Governor- General and 
his victorious army, and all went smoothly. The beaten army 
lay scattered, but not dispersed, and after the manner of the 
English, were promptly enlisted into the new contingent, to 
be commanded by British officers, and expanded from the 
small existing one. Then as the beaten army heard that not 
only were arrears of pay being issued, but new and attrac- 
tive employment offered, it laid down its arms and flocked for 
pay and service. Lord Ellenborough, 1 writing from Gwalior 
to the Duke of Wellington, says that the officers raising the 
corps were well satisfied with the material offering. 

The Government acted with great moderation. The boy 
Sindiah remained on his throne with satisfactory arrangements 
for his minority and tutelage, and within a month the 
armies had tramped away, horse, foot, and artillery to their 
summer quarters in the big cantonments, Meerut, Delhi, 
Kurnal, Saharanpur, Saugor and the like. 

It is well to remember the immense relief to the Government 
of India that this breaking of the Gwalior army afforded. Ever 
since the death of Runjhit Singh, Sikh animosity had been 
increasing, fomented by the satisfaction that our Afghan 
misfortunes had called forth. "So these English are not 
invincible after all," had been the feeling throughout the 
length and breadth of Hindustan. It was natural enough, and 
with the great organised Sikh army and its powerful artillery 

1 The Indian Administration of Lord Ellenborough. 



100 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

added to the Mahratta army in our very midst, the longer 
heads, among them that of Henry Lawrence, had something 
to shake over. The Sikh was not much of a Hindu, but quite 
enough of one to respond to the vibration of a religious chord, 
that dwelt on an anti-English combination. After the Mahratta 
wars of 1803-05, just described, when Lord Lake had crushed 
the French armies of Sindiah, Holkar, driven from Delhi and 
the Doab, had flown north to preach combination to the Sikhs, 
who did once actually advance to join against us. A combination 
between Sikh and Mahratta had therefore long lain among 
the skeletons in the cupboard, and Lord Ellenborough and his 
council must indeed have been glad to see it buried deep in 
the trenches at Maharajpore. 

As regards the controversies of the battles, there is little to 
be said. Lord Ellenborough writing to the Duke, the Duke 
in reply, and Sir Hugh Gough also, allude more than once to 
the evil misrepresentations of the British Indian Press, and 
to the fact that every regiment and battery kept a Press corres- 
pondent who criticised and abused with very little knowledge 
of what had gone on, and still less judgment. One subaltern 
of horse artillery was removed from his battery for his letters 
to the press, thus losing his jacket. If we wish to criticise at 
this distance, we must remember that neither generals nor 
staffs were trained to the conduct and routine of war, as they 
now are, and that manoeuvres were of rare occurrence. We could 
not in these days find that the enemy had changed their position 
by coming unexpectedly on the new line, as happened at 
Maharajpore, or at any rate, be disconcerted thereby. We may 
perhaps criticise, as Sir Harry Smith did, in this and in the 
Sutlej campaign, the sledge-hammer methods, which hurled the 
European troops at the batteries, regardless of loss, and without 
military skill. Sir Harry was trained on the staff of the Light 
Division in the Peninsula, of which the Duke said that it was 
the only division he had that could fight a battle and yet be 
fit to go on again the next day. The others hurled themselves 
unskilfully on the enemy and won with heavy loss, while the 




The two Stars for the Gwalior Campaign and the Medal for 

the Conquest of Sind. (This copy has both " Mecance " and 

" Hyderabad " on the Reverse indicating that the recipient 

was present at both battles.) 

The War Medals of India. II. 




' 



1 2 3 

i. The obverse of the " Vindex " Medal 1842 

2. The " Vindex " Medal, reverse, " Cabool 1842 " 

3. The Ghuznee Medal 1839 

The Afghan War Medals, 1839-42 
Face page 101] 



THE GWALIOR WAR IOI 

Light Division did it always with little loss. At Aliwal Sir 
Harry Smith was able to put his principles into practice, and 
win a handsome victory at little cost. 

The armies of those days fought in the winter in their full 
dress, shakos, coatee, white cross-belts. Sepoys dressed like 
the British Line, the Lancers wore their high caps and dress 
accoutrements, and the Bengal Light Cavalry were dressed 
like light dragoons. Their baggage was absurd. Lord Ellen- 
borough in his letters to the Duke of Wellington complained 
that all the furniture of a bungalow went into the field. He 
says that 5,000 hackeries accompanied Sir John Grey's force. 
It may be remembered that there has been much discussion 
as to which of the many claimants possessed the actual mess 
table of H.M. 24th Foot, on which were laid out after Chillian- 
wallah the bodies of the officers of the regiment killed there. 
The number of bodies was very great, and that mess table 
must itself have required two hackeries to carry it. The Army 
was unconscionable in the baggage it took, and no one had the 
strength of character to draw up a light war scale, and see that 
it was obeyed. A good deal of our troubles in the first Afghan 
War were due to a similar cause. 

Such in outline was the Gwalior campaign of 1843, and 
"what it was all about," and we should always remember 
that without it, the results of the earlier almost drawn battles 
of the 1 st Sikh wars two years later would certainly have brought 
the Gwalior army on our flanks and rear, across the centre of 
our communications. It is curious how little the campaign is 
known and written of, so that a succinct account is hard to 
find, and the local colour still harder to light on. From the 
captured guns were made the bronze stars referred to for those 
who shared in the battles. These stars were originally issued 
with a hook at the back to fasten on the coat, but later were 
hung like medals, with the rainbow ribbon, originally designed 
by Lord Ellenborough for the medals for the Afghan War, to 
represent the rising sun, and also used with the Sind medals 
for the battles of Meanee and Hyderabad. 



VIII 

THE CONQUEST OF SIND, 1843 

Early History of Sind. 

The First Afghan War. 

Sir Charles Napier. 

The Withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

The Ameers and the treaty. 

The Battle of Meanee. 

The Battle of Dubba or Hyderabad. 

The Conquest of Sind is perhaps the most important step 
in completing the prosperity of a United India that the British 
ever took, opening up the mighty rivers to Free Trade, and 
producing the status which finishes with the spreading of the 
water of the Indus on millions of arid acres in the great irrigation 
barrage of Sukkur which Lord Willingdon opened in 1931. 
It was only a conquest in that it rejoined to India what the 
Afghans had taken, and a land which had been but little more 
than a generation in the hands of as wild and ruthless conquerors 
from the hills as ever harried a peaceful people. Its conquest, 
however, involved a strange controversy between two famous 
public servants in which great interest still lies, and it therefore 
needs treating more as a historical presentment than as a 
vignette of derringdo. It is a story not very easy to follow, and 
one that has been grossly misrepresented by the Press of 
Bombay at that period. 

Early History of Sind 

To view the question of Sind in correct perspective we must 
first of all revert to the days of the Mogul Empire before Nadir 



THE CONQUEST OF SIND, 1843 IO3 

Shah, the Persian Turk, invaded India and cut off therefrom 
the northern provinces, viz. Afghanistan as we now know it, and 
the various provinces of the Indus. In 1748 Nadir Shah, other- 
wise known by^his assumed title of Nadir Khan Quli, the Slave 
of Destiny, was murdered and the Durani Empire of Ahmad 
Shah Abdalli commenced. Sind, the great fluvial province of 
the lower Indus, was a pure Indian province, largely inhabited 
by people analogous to the Jats of the Punjab and the Jats 
of the neighbourhood of Delhi. It had not undergone the 
centuries of colonization by Mongol, Turk and Afghan as had 
the upper provinces of the Indus, for the routes from Central 
Asia converged on various points higher up at or near the Indus, 
from Multan northwards. In the eighth century there had been 
an Arab conquest of Sind and an Arab kingdom founded from 
Basra, about the time of the Saxon move to England, but this, 
while introducing Islam long before the faith of the Prophet 
had reached the rest of India, had faded away as the Arab 
Empire dwindled in power. It is now but marked by the striking 
similarity existing between that hardy race of sailors, the men 
who sail the great vessels up the Indus, and those who follow 
a similar vocation on the Tigris. As the Shatt-el-Arab came 
to the Sind in the eighth century, so in the twentieth the Sind 
came to the Shatt, for time is in no hurry to make its adjustments. 
In the days of Aurungzebe, the last of the Great Moguls who 
was great, Sind, which is but the Indian name for the Indus, was 
a province of Delhi, populated by an exceedingly industrious 
peasantry, who dwelt within reach of such inundation canals as 
their skill could take off the Indus in its flood season, waiting 
patiently for more water, as indeed does all India. Now at last 
they are to see what countless generations have dreamed of, the 
spreading of the surplus water of the Indus and the Punjab over 
their lands. In a year or so from now, the completion of the 
great barrage at Sukkur, will put many millions of acres under 
wheat and bring wealth and land that is now desert to several 
million peasantry, so hard and so impious is the rule of the 
British that succeeded to King Sword and Queen Famine. But 



104 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

that, too, is but by the way, save that "old Peccavi," the nick- 
name borne of Punch's mot, "Peccavi" (I have Sind) dreamed 
it all, as he carried out the behests of the great and good Lord 
Ellenborough. 

When Ahmad Shah founded his Afghan Empire from the 
derelict Mogul provinces across the Indus, Sind was one of 
them. After the manner of the East, nay of the world, patient 
peasants have overlords, barons who strive with one another, 
and reap the guerdon of rent and cess where they sow not. 
Sometimes they earn that cess by offering protection, which is 
the sole right that has any justification, often they earn it not 
at all. The peasantry watch the come and go of barons, Norman 
and Saxon or Dane, Mogul or Turk and Afghan, and turn the 
plough deeper in the sod, and pray that new master will not be 
more unreasonable than old master. And the great kings higher 
up in the scale care not, save only Akbar the Great, who it be 
and how the peasantry are treated, so long as they get their 
share of the revenue and their meed of military service. 

At the beginning of the eighteenth century when the Moguls 
were struggling with Persia for Kandahar and Lower Sind, the 
overlordship of Sind had fallen to a fanatical family from Persia, 
the Kalloras, and in 1778 the Kalloras were ousted by a Belooch 
tribe and family, the Talpoors, who divided the country among 
them into chieftaincies and were confirmed in their seizure by 
the Durani power which claimed the Empire in which Sind 
lay. When the original Talpoor chief died in 1880 his four 
brothers, known as the Char Yar y divided the power, calling 
themselves the Ameers of Sind, in which the headship of the 
State remained with the eldest surviving brother. The Ameers 
of Hyderabad and Mirpur were the Lords of Lower Sind, and 
the Ameer of Kairpur Lord of Upper Sind, but the Ameer of 
Hyderabad was recognized as having some accepted authority 
over all. When the Durani Empire crumbled, and the Barakzai 
Viziers seized the power from the family of Ahmad Shah, the 
Belooch chiefs of Sind all tried to throw off their allegiance to 
Kabul. 



THE CONQUEST OF SIND, 1843 105 

Afghanistan broke into several independent chiefships also. 
But in all these temporary fissures two historical and indeed 
geographical truths remained. Sind was either a province of 
India or of Afghanistan, and the little pots could not hope to 
swim long alone in the stream. When the attention of the 
British was drawn to the threats of first Napoleon and the Tsar, 
and then in William the Fourth's reign, of the Russian advance 
among the Central Asian Khanates, the first conception of a 
barrier between India and Russia took the form of an outer and 
an inner layer of states. The inner layer were to be Lahore, 
Bhawalpur and Sind, the outer layer, Kabul, Herat and Persia, 
and if possible by alliance and agreement the unabsorbed trans- 
Oxus Khanates. 

When Shah Shujah, the exiled and ineffective but rightful 
monarch of Afghanistan, first tried to regain the throne he did 
so, both in 181 8 and again in 1834, via Sind and Shikarpur. 
The Ameers of Sind then attacked him and were defeated, 
paying him five lakhs of rupees to get rid of him, which was 
nominally arrears of tribute to Kabul. 

By this time Great Britain as a trading power was immensely 
interested in the navigation of the Indus, a mighty waterway 
well covered with craft, and in the safe navigation of which 
British India, with a station at Ferozepore, was now intimately 
concerned. The interests of the whole world were involved 
and interference with trade on the river was a fruitful matter for 
quarrel between Runjhit Singh at Lahore and the Ameers of 
Sind. It was obviously essential that the question of transit, 
transit dues, and the equitable satisfaction of any just rights 
in dues, should be amicably settled. At the beginning of the 
'thirties Colonel Pottinger had been sent to Sind to open up 
some modus vivendi and to represent the Company. Further, 
Runjhit Singh, who had absorbed all the other Afghan districts 
on the Indus, was quite prepared to conquer Sind and the 
Ameers were equally anxious to save themselves. What the 
British wanted was peace and order and reasonableness along 
the whole Indus and at this period they had not the slightest 



106 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

desire to annex the Punjab or Sind. These happenings were 
but thrust on them by fate. But it must always be remembered 
that Great Britain as the de facto, and in a certain sense the 
legal, successor to the broken Mogul power, had the right of 
supremacy and influence in all the provinces that had broken 
off the parent stem in the long process of degradation through 
which the Empire had passed. 

The First Afghan War 

The history of the Conquest of Sind is directly connected 
with the story of the attempt to restore the Durani power in 
Afghanistan which drifted into the First Afghan War. When, 
in 1837, the long series of disturbances on the Afghan border 
that were so disastrous to trade, induced us to try and solve 
the Central Asian problem on broad and generous lines, we 
decided to restore the Shah via his former province of Sind. 
The events that led thereto have already been outlined in the 
story of the " Illustrious Garrison." As part of those events 
we had required from the Ameers an agreement to our passage 
of their territory from both north and south for our own and 
the Shah's troops and the temporary rendition into our hands 
of the great fortress of Bhakkar which dominated the world's 
highway, the great crossing of the Indus in Sind. Now this 
treaty which, however immediately forceful, was but the rightful 
demand of a paramount power, was not unaccompanied by 
many advantages pecuniary and otherwise. Had those princes 
chosen to abide by their engagements and be reasonably attentive 
to the advice and suggestions of the British Resident 
Sind would have remained independent if tributary, exactly as 
their neighbour the Khan of Bhawalpur has remained to this 
day. In pursuit of the treaty made in 1838, the Army of the 
Indus, joined by the Bombay Army at Sukkur, moved into 
Afghanistan. During the vicissitudes of that war, a British 
force garrisoned Kurrachee and held a cantonment at Sukkur. 
By the skill of the political officers the Ameers and their wild 



THE CONQUEST OF SIND, 1843 IO7 

gatherings of tribesman retainers, Afghan mercenaries and the 
like, were prevented from joining in the wild uprisings against 
the British. But Colonel England, who commanded in Sind, 
had got himself into an entirely unnecessary and disgraceful 
reverse at Haikalzai beyond Quetta in an attempt to take supplies 
through to Nott in Kandahar. 

It was considered necessary to put the affairs in Sind in 
strong hands when Nott marched to Kabul, and the ineffective 
England was charged with evacuating the residue of Nott's 
forces from Kandahar. It is from this period that dates the 
whole story of the conquest of Sind. 

Sir Charles Napier 

Sir Charles Napier was one of the most distinguished soldiers 
of the period and indeed of British history, but this distinction 
had come on him unsought when, past sixty years of age, much 
shattered in youth by severe wounds in the Peninsula, he had 
been made a major-general by the brevet of 1837. Prior to 
that he had spent many enthusiastic years developing Ceph- 
alonia, the chief of the Ionian Islands of which he had been 
governor, and immediately before his sailing for India had been 
specially concerned in the handling of Chartist riots in the north 
of England, where his sympathetic yet commonsense action 
had got the Government of the day neatly out of very unhappy 
troubles. Then Lord Hill, the Commander-in-Chief, offered 
him a command in India, and he found himself in 1841 com- 
manding the Poona Division. The position in Afghanistan, 
which soon merged into the massacres of the Kabul brigade, 
the equally pitiful surrender of Ghuzni, and the defiant leaguer 
of Jalalabad, was on everyone's lips in India. The tails of the 
Army were down, not only because of disaster, but owing to 
the way in which efficient officers were shepherded to that 
disaster owing to the astounding political system in force in 
Afghanistan. The first task Napier set himself was to kill the 
view that was being bandied about as an excuse for some of our 



108 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

troubles, that the matchlock was a superior weapon to the 
musket. Having some more knowledge of musketry than most 
officers of the day, he was well qualified to carry out experiments, 
which conclusively proved to the Bombay troops that they had 
the superior weapon, and he explained that the impression of a 
superior range was due not to the weapon but to the fact that 
it was nearly always fired from heights on our folk below 
or engaged in escalade. 

Then came the chance that the ambitious old soldier had 
been waiting for since the days of the Peninsula. And it is to be 
remembered that he was the son of an extremely able mother 
who was also the great-great-grand- daughter of no less a char- 
acter than Charles II, while his brother General Sir William 
Napier and cousin Admiral Sir Charles Napier were equally dis- 
tinguished. Lord Ellenborough had succeeded to the tired and 
vacillating Lord Auckland, weary of his own policy and the 
failure that had resulted from it. The new Governor- General 
had realized how the system of political control in times of 
danger had produced the situation that had ended in such 
humiliation, and he was putting a stop to it. In his opinion, 
also, the Ameers of Sind were endeavouring in every way to 
cozen the British and evade their obligations to them. He 
therefore appointed Sir Charles Napier to the command in Sind 
and to the chief political power. Major Outram, a most dis- 
tinguished officer of the Bombay Army, long known for his 
successful and humane dealings with wild tribes and famous as 
a shikari, had been political agent for some time and had brought 
the Ameers without outbreak through the extremely difficult 
times of the Kabul disasters. He had also distinguished himself 
greatly in the earlier part of the Afghan War. He was in some 
disfavour with the new Governor- General over the matter of 
an unfortunate young political officer who had been accused 
of causing the ambuscade of Colonel England's column. This 
column had walked with its eyes shut up an entrenched valley 
held by the enemy. But at that time so emasculated was the 
military enterprise of portions of the Army that it could not 



THE CONQUEST OF SIND, 1843 I09 

attend to its own information and everyday safety. Outram 
had protested that the young political was not the Army's 
nursemaid. Incidentally the lad had died of his wounds raving. 
Napier was full of sympathy and asked that Outram might 
remain with him as his principal assistant for his political 
responsibilities. He had also paid great tribute in public to 
Outram's services and well-known attributes, so that they 
started off well together. 

Napier arrived in Sind in September, 1842. Except for the 
garrison at the small port of Kurrachee, the troops that Napier 
was to command were in Upper Sind at Sukkur, but the major 
portion of his force did not materialize till England returned 
from Kandahar, when Napier was to canton them at Sukkur 
and send the Bengal troops back to the Punjab, which would 
leave him at most 12,000 men. In the meantime he was to use 
such troops as he had, to support the return of England and 
keep off the Belooch hill tribes from the latter. Outram himself, 
the chief political, was up sweetening the tribes in the Quetta 
neighbourhood to let the withdrawing troops alone. That 
withdrawal following on the victorious reunion of the southern 
and northern British forces at Kabul, was looked upon as a 
sad confession of ultimate weakness. 

The Withdrawal from Afghanistan 

General England, as he now was, had no great reputation, for 
Haikalzai and other ineptitudes were in most men's mouths, 
but when his force eventually straggled down from the passes, 
Napier, thinking that he had been misjudged, wrote him a very 
handsome letter of congratulation. Later when he saw the 
miserable want of order and system prevailing, so that his whole 
force could have been easily destroyed, he was very indignant, 
especially at the way the wounded from Haikalzai were brought 
down and the way that officers were caring for their men. He 
arrived at Sukkur by steamer at the end of September, having 
ordered the officer commanding there to move out to cover 



110 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

England's columns from the hills, and then met Outram for 
the first time. The two men of action took an immediate fancy 
to one another, which lasted for some little while; Outram 
proceeding shortly on furlough only to come back almost at 
once as Civil Commissioner to Sir Charles. 

The Bengal troops were to march away, much to Napier's 
relief, as he described the feeling between them and the Bombay 
troops as extraordinarily bad. Then he sat down to get his 
men under cover at Sukkur before the next summer and 
generally to reorganize the area and settle the political system, 
as the Governor-General, in his unthinking way, had abolished 
the whole establishment by a stroke of the pen. The Governor- 
General was determined to settle the Sind business once and 
for all and now offered Napier General Nott's troops when they 
returned down the Indus as they would on emerging from the 
Khaiber. This, however, he did not want. What he did want 
was cavalry, and authority to expand the Irregular Horse now 
being worked to death under the young Bombay Gunner, 
Captain Jacob. He received eventually two regular regiments, 
the 9th Bengal and the Poona Horse. 

With the evacuation of the remnant of Nott's force from 
Kandahar and the rolling up of the posts through the Bolan 
and Kach-Gundava the Afghan campaign and Sir Charles' 
connection therewith was at an end, and the aftermath thereto 
in Sind was about to ensue. 

The Ameers and the Treaty 

The treaty which the Ameers of Sind were compelled to make 
with the British and Shah Shujah has been referred to. Whether 
it was fair or unfair is a controversy which has long since passed. 
It can now, as we know it after the lapse of years, only be called 
unfair if we consider the whole British venture or fate in the 
East unfair. Lord Ellenborough considered that the Ameers, 
reading from Outram's reports, had endeavoured to evade it at 
every turn. He now sent very definite orders to Napier to see it 



THE CONQUEST OF SIND, 1843 III 

strictly observed, and ere long propounded an amended one 
which the Ameers must accept. Sir Charles thought the original 
treaty an undue interference with the Ameers, but that they, 
who were notoriously the worst rulers and cruellest oppressors 
of a peaceful and unwarlike peasantry in India, would be 
infinitely richer and their people much happier if it had been 
scrupulously observed. It is to be remembered that they them- 
selves in the lifetime of the oldest of them had seized the rule, 
assisted by the hill Beloochees, and maintained their position 
with the help of hordes of tribesmen and mercenaries, both 
Afghan and Belooch. They had given lands and villages to be 
the prey of their followers and cared nought for the Sindian, whom 
they even prevented from making what they could from trading 
and agriculture, by the ignorance and oppression of their rule. 

To Outram, who had handled them through the difficulties 
of the Afghan trouble, they were picturesque chiefs for whom 
in some ways he had sympathy and affection, and to whom he 
had in the handling of them, given all sorts of assurances. He, 
like Henry Lawrence, dreamed and aimed more at making chiefs 
and barons better, than at getting rid of them. But there was 
no doubt that they had at their call immense numbers of well- 
armed men, both the hill Belooch, from their own plantations 
of barons and followers, and from hordes of Afghans and other 
wild adventurers who would flock to their call. For the Ameers 
had immense personal wealth squeezed from the rich Indus 
traffic on which they sat, and from their peasantry. 

To enforce the existing treaties, to enquire into the more 
deliberate evasions, especially in the matter of fluvial trade to 
the Punjab and the dues arising, and to see the new ones signed 
was the task of Sir Charles Napier. Shilly-shally, intrigue and 
evasion were not unnaturally the order of the day. Outram 
thought the Ameers would sign and give guarantees, but Napier 
and his staff knew well how the army had perished at the hands 
of political optimism and misjudgment, and the Afghan suspicion 
and atmosphere was ever present in their minds. They were 
not prepared to accept the political view and intelligence as 



112 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

correct. They believed that Outram was entirely misled by his 
own jasus 1 and agents, that the Ameers were conspiring to fight 
and were assembling immense forces. This, especially the 
assembling of forces, Outram denied. Unfortunately, but 
happily for the country, Napier was right, for the Ameers had 
collected 50,000 to 60,000 well-armed and very warlike followers. 
Napier decided that as the Governor-General's wishes were 
being deliberately evaded, and as the Ameers were not out to 
settle peaceably, he would march on Hyderabad, the centre of 
the trouble, where Outram himself had a residence, in the hope 
that his approach with his force would induce them to be more 
reasonable. The old treaty and the new, while bringing the 
Ameers into control, were greatly to their real advantage, and 
also a necessity of modern life on the rivers. 

Sir Charles Napier was every inch a soldier and a regimental 
soldier. He had very soon pulled the draggled forces that had 
come down the passes into order. The troops were now alert 
and well-disciplined, with their tails curling over their heads in 
a way that they had not curled for several years. Their Chief 
had, moreover, taken their fancy. But the winter of 1842-43 
was passing and a Sindian winter passes to a Sindian summer 
and heat unbelievable, in a very short time. Napier was not 
going to let negotiations, which he believed spurious, drag on 
till the heat forbade his troops taking the field. 

The Ameer of Upper Sind had his capital at Khairpur, not 
far from Sukkur. He was Rustum, a very old man, a survivor 
of the seizure of Sind from the Kalloras. His son was intriguing 
to get the old man to abdicate in his favour, whereas the succes- 
sion by right and custom must go to his eldest uncle, Ali Murad. 
Eventually Rustum did put himself in Ali Murad's hands and 
Napier recognized the latter as Ameer of Upper Sind. The 
sons of Rustum and other brothers took their troops out, and 
some actually moved to the famous desert retreat, the huge 
fortress of Emamgarh, where they had always been inaccessible 
in time of trouble. Napier felt that he must kill the idea of 

1 Spies. 



THE CONQUEST OF SIND, 1843 1I 3 

inaccessibility once and for all, and moved out on December 
26th with his force or as much as he could get camels for to the 
edge of the desert at Deejee, thirty miles, and there left the 
bulk while he moved 350 of the 22nd Foot on camels, two 
24-p. howitzers with double teams of camels, and 150 of 
the Scinde Horse. Pushing over heavy sand with very little 
water they arrived at Tugul on the absolute edge of the desert, 
forty miles from Deejee, and thence sixty miles more to Emam- 
garh, where he arrived on the 12th of January, 1843, carrying 
his water as well as his food. 

The birds had flown, astounded at the British enterprise, 
whereon Napier used 10,000 lbs. of powder found in the fort 
in blowing up the stronghold, which he considered rightly 
enough a quite unnecessary appanage of Amirdom. He then 
marched back to Pir Abu Bakr on the road from Sukkur to 
Hyderabad, and forty-five miles from the former to which he 
had ordered the main body at Deejee to move. Outram he sent 
to Khairpur, having summoned all the recalcitrant relatives of 
Ali Murad to meet the Commissioner. As they did not come 
in, Outram persuaded Napier that if he returned to the Resi- 
dency at Hyderabad, he could at any rate make Naseer of 
Hyderabad and Shere Mahomed of Mirpur see reason and sign 
the new treaty. Sir Charles, learning that the Ameers were 
increasing their forces every day and that some thousands of 
the hill Beloochees, Rinds, Logharis, Chandians, etc., were 
coming down behind him, decided to push on for Hyderabad 
and leave the matter to push of pike if need be, before these 
vast accessions of strength might arrive. 

The force at his disposal was small enough, barely 2,800 men, 
consisting of the Poona Horse, the 9th Bengal Light Cavalry, 
the Scinde Horse, H.M. 22nd Foot, the 1st Bombay Grenadiers, 
the 1 2th and 25th Bombay Infantry, and a company of the 
famous Madras Sappers, with Hutt's and Lloyd's batteries. 
This force in great heart, despite the increasing heat, reached 
Muttaree, twenty miles north of Hyderabad and 160 miles from 
Sukkur, on the 16th of February. 



114 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 



The Battle of Meeanee 

Now was to begin one of those desperate battles which go to 
make up the great tradition of the British Army and the Army 
of India. At his camp at Muttaree Napier learnt that the 
Beloochees in immense numbers were established in and behind 
a deep dry watercourse, the Fullaillee, some ten miles ahead. 
Outram's messages from the Residency still asserted that the 
Ameers did not mean to fight, had not massed their men, or 
alternately, had sent them away. Napier's information was far 
otherwise. 30,000 Beloochees in arms were ten miles from his 
2,800, and blocking the way to Hyderabad on which he was 
marching. Therefore he advanced on Meenee at midnight, 
arriving before their position at daybreak, in line of columns, 
the 22nd Foot on the right, the mounted troops on the left. 
Close to his right was the eleven-foot unscalable wall of one of 
the immense shikargahs or shooting parks which the Ameers 
delighted to make. The park was too thick to use as a way of 
approach but Napier dropped a company of the 22nd at the 
only opening to hold it to the last man, and thus protect most 
effectively his front and rear and baggage column. 

The latter were parked under the Poona Horse as guard, and 
then the battle was ready. It was to be shirked by neither side 
and its story is a sheer record of hammer and tongs, tulwar on 
bayonet and locking ring. The British formed line and advanced 
towards the river bed, to find that the enemy's musketeers were 
holding the hitherside, these opened a hot fire, and then masses 
of swordsmen rushed forth. They were slowly beaten back to 
the edge of the river bank after severe hand-to-hand struggles, 
and then below them the British saw countless swordsmen and 
brilliant colours, a wild and picturesque sight. After three 
hours more of desperate charge and counter-charge the cavalry 
on the British left got across the Fullaillee and dashed in among 
the crowds on the far bank. Then the Beloochees slowly broke 
away but many remained to fight it out, giving no quarter and 



THE CONQUEST OF SIND, 1843 115 

asking none. They left 5,000 on the field. It was as brilliant 
and fierce a struggle as the Army had ever experienced, and the 
Indian troops vied with the 22nd in dash and courage. Hyder- 
abad was occupied and all the Princes, the Ameer and his 
relatives surrendered. 

Outram, who had a small escort of British and Indian troops, 
was attacked two days before in the Residency by several thousand 
Legharis, who were beaten off after a prolonged struggle. The 
Ameers had succeeded in bringing over from the opposite bank 
some 20,000 of the hill tribes to swell their forces, Outram 
eventually withdrawing to his steamers, got in touch with his 
chief and with a detachment was engaged on the day of the 
battle firing the Shikargah to drive out lurking Beloochees. 
After occupying the city, and putting 400 men in the great 
rock fort, Napier withdrew to the Indus bank and there threw 
up an entrenched camp, in case of need, but camped his men 
in the open in front of it. His force was now reduced to 2,000 
men, and he sent up to Colonel Roberts at Sukkur and down to 
Kurrachee for every man that could be spared. The whole 
river bank between Hyderabad and both Sukkur and Kurrachee, 
however, was in a most disturbed state, stray bands of Beloochees 
attacking any post or detachment they could find. Lord Ellen- 
borough, hearing of what was in progress, sent as reinforcements 
from the Sutlej unsought, Stack and the 3rd Bombay Light 
Cavalry, Blood's and Leslie's troops of Bombay Horse Artillery, 
and a battalion, while Roberts also sent a battalion and details. 
Time was getting on, the heat was getting great, and Shere 
Mahomed, the Ameer of Mirpur, had collected some 30,000 
men, those who had fought at Meeanee and others, and now 
summoned Napier to surrender. The fate of the Kabul garrison 
was openly promised him: "he shall now be Cabooled" men 
said. It was not till well on in March that reinforcements could 
arrive. As Stack's column approached, by the same road that 
Sir Charles had marched, Shere Mahomed threatened to 
overwhelm him. Napier ordered him to double his last march 
and sent out Jacob's Horse to meet him, following himself with 



Il6 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

a strong column. They evaded Shere Mahomed by a day, and 
on the 22nd Napier had them all united on the banks of the 
Indus. On the 23rd ships brought details and drafts from 
Kurrachee, and unexpectedly too a host of masts appeared from 
the Sukkur bringing a battalion and some much-needed gunners 
from Roberts. 



The Battle of Dubba, or Hyderabad 

Thus reinforced, giving Stack's troops a day's rest, Sir 
Charles sallied forth on the night of the 23rd March to meet 
"The Lion," Shere Mahomed, who had spurned all proposals 
for negotiation. Marching ten miles inland, Sir Charles at 
dawn learnt that the Beloochees were entrenched two miles 
ahead, along a deep nullah which ran into the winding Fullaillee 
on its left bank, with their right on the village of Dubba. De- 
ploying his force on the plain in front, he advanced in echelon 
from his left, the 22nd leading, under a sharp fire from fifteen 
of the Ameer's guns. The British force, pitifully small though 
it seemed for its task, was far superior to that which won Meeanee. 
When formed the line was arrayed as follows: — 

The Poona Horse. 

The 9th Bengal Light Cavalry. 

The 22nd Foot. 

The 25th, 21st, 1 2th and 1st Bo. N.I. 

The 3rd Light Cavalry and the Scinde Horse. 
Some 19 guns were in the intervals, only one of the troops 
of horse artillery having come up. It was such a fight as 
Meeanee, opened by the 22nd attacking the nullahs and gaining 
the village, battalion after battalion coming up in succession 
and throwing themselves at the masses of standards and swords- 
men on their front. Napier in person gave the order to the 
22nd to start. The fury of the troops was too much for even 
the Beloochees, who were driven from nullah to nullah. The 
cavalry on the right, to the General's consternation, started a 
charge on their own- which was gloriously successful, and the 



THE CONQUEST OF SIND, 1843 117 

Beloochees now left the field in large numbers, some following 
Shere Mahomed who was making for the desert, others the hill 
tribes making for the Indus in the hope of re-crossing, but only 
to be a prey to the cavalry, while many elected to die where 
they stood. A British officer had recently been murdered by 
Beloochees, and his name was constantly on the lips of the sepoys 
as they refused quarter. 

Fierce as had been the fighting, the casualties to the British 
were far less than at Meeanee, totalling only 270, of which 147 
were in the 22nd who had first engaged. The enemy's loss was 
estimated at 5,000 with their fifteen guns and seventeen stand- 
ards, and a complete loss of prestige and further desire to 
fight. Shere Mahomed had made for his capital at Mirpur, 
where the Poona Horse arrived next day in pursuit, when the 
townspeople opened the gates saying that the Ameer had fled 
with his family to the desert stronghold of Omarkot. Napier 
himself followed to Mirpur and sent Jacob and the camel 
battery, followed by the 25th N.I., to Omarkot. Owing, 
however, to the fear of the inundation now due, the British 
commander was anxious to get his troops back to the Indus and 
recalled the Omarkot force. The officer commanding, Captain 
Whitlie of the Artillery, hearing that the Ameer had abandoned 
the town, referred for fresh orders and was directed to proceed. 
It was found that the fort was still held by Beloochees, but the 
Ameer was gone, and the garrison, on the arrival of the guns and 
the 25th Bombay Infantry, surrendered. A garrison was then 
left and the last stronghold of the Ameers, distant a hundred 
miles from Hyderabad, was in British hands, but the fierce 
summer was now in full blast, and it was necessary to get the 
troops under cover. Thus ended this most dramatic campaign. 

Sir Charles was immediately appointed Governor of Sind, 
which was annexed and steadily cleared of Beloochees, and 
then commenced several remarkable years of rough and ready 
commonsense administration, which well prepared the way for 
the ordinary civil administration which was to follow. For 
many years, however, Sind was a special problem attracting a 



Il8 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

wonderful set of British officers who accomplished more 
than even Sir Charles Napier with all his enthusiasms dared 
dream of. That great cameraderie and spirit of the Sind 
personnel and band of builders was something quite apart, and 
lasted in the land, till the end of the nineteenth century, and 
even endures in some sense still. In 1932 this province which 
Sir Charles and his handful of troops rescued from an utter 
darkness is about to see the waters of the Indus spread over the 
land. Its little bandar of Kurrachee is one of the great ports 
of the world, and the province bids fair to be one of the richest 
in India. 

The Bombay Press, for some strange reason, elected to 
conduct a campaign of calumny against the whole force, even 
going so far as to say that the zenana of the Ameers of Hyderabad 
was distributed among the officers of the force. This called 
forth a signed protest to which most of the officers of the army 
appended their signature. 

The Outram controversy raged somewhat discreditably, and 
the General was angered that Outram gave to the India Office 
a memorandum of his, which had not been attached to the State 
papers and which it published. It was altogether an unaccount- 
able episode, and at this distance of time we can feel that Outram 
had been much tried and strained by all he had gone through 
and was not at his best. The whole of Army opinion throughout 
India was delighted to see the soldier act up to his responsibility 
and rely on his own judgment. And there is no manner of 
possible doubt not only that the Ameers had decided to resist 
and summon the hills to their aid, but had it not been for Sir 
Charles' fighting vigour, his force would probably have been 
lost. The Governor- General and the Duke of Wellington were 
loud in their encomiums, and Napier had full support for his 
methods of administration. His order book, both when getting 
his force disciplined, when fighting the excessive baggage 
habits of officers and when getting the country happily quieted, 
was rightly famous, for Sir Charles was a character and when 
he said things said them in a forceful and unusual manner. In 



THE CONQUEST OF SIND, 1843 119 

1846 during the first Sikh War he brought a force up the Indus 
and the Ravi to join Lord Gough in Lahore. Later when the 
outcry against " little Gough" after Chillianwallah was great, 
Sir Charles was brought out to supersede him. Happily 
Gough's victory at Goojerat, at which no one rejoiced more 
than Napier, had rehabilitated him, and he left in a shower 
of glory. The stories of Sir Charles as Commander-in-Chief 
were many, and his orders and memoranda were often unusual 
and always to the point. Here is one of the most characteristic. 
In those days divorce proceedings in the Army usually involved 
a Court Martial and a sentence of dismissal on a guilty officer. 
In one such case where the officer was sentenced to dismissal, 
the evidence showed that the lady in the case had been rather 
provocative. Sir Charles refused to confirm, writing "I 
quash the case. History records no second Joseph." 

It was later one of the tragedies of the period, that circum- 
stances brought Napier into acute conflict with Lord Dalhousie, 
that most competent and difficult of Governors-General. 

The medal for " Scinde" was worn with the universal rainbow 

ribbon (representing the rising sun) given for the Afghan wars, and 

the Gwalior star. After the manner of the time, there were no clasps, 

f IVIeanee 
but the medals bore "Meanee," "Hyderabad," or 



Hyderabad 

on the obverse as the case might be. Hyderabad was the official 
name for the Battle of Dubba. 



IX 

THE SIKH WARS 

i. Ferozeshah, 1845 
ii. Chillianwallah, 1849 
iii. Goojerat, 1849 

December 21st, 1845 

" Trumpeter, what are you sounding now? 

(Is it the call I'm seeking?)" 

"You'll know the call," said the trumpeter tall, 

"When my trumpet goes a-speakin'. 

I'm rousin' 'em up, I am wakin' 'em up, 

The tents are astir in the valley, 

And there's no more sleep with the sun's first peep, 

For I'm soundin' the old Reveille." 

Great as are the traditions of the British Army there are 
few severer trials which it has undergone than the fierce struggles 
of the two Sikh wars known respectively as the " Sutlej " and 
"Punjab" campaigns. The story of Ferozeshah is perhaps the 
most stirring of the incidents of the first campaign, partly for 
its drama of the "midnight bivouac" and the anxious hours 
when the issue was in the balance. Francis Barron's song which 
I venture to quote is peculiarly applicable to the scene. 

The Sikh wars are the last when the Army, descended of 
Waterloo and Peninsula tradition, went into action with an 
Order of Battle and the old dress, when every leader was a 
Peninsula man. By the time the Crimea came, the term "Penin- 
sula hero" was a term of contumely, for war and its methods 
were changing — "sic transit gloria mundif" In the Sikh wars, 
fought in the cold climate of Northern India, the Army in the 
winter was dressed as in Europe, and the dress and accoutre- 




[Face page 1 20 



THE SIKH WARS 121 

ments had not changed to any marked extent since Waterloo. 
The Indian battalions, like the Europeans, had scarlet coatees 
and white cross belts, with shakos covered with white drill 
covers, which some brigades discarded as the weather grew cold. 
The Horse Artillery, still in their old English Dragoon helmets, 
with a roll of panther skin round the base and horsehair crests, 
white leathers and high black boots, were always a brilliant 
feature prominent in the pictures of the day. 

The Order of Battle was an Order of Battle, and the troops 
formed up and fought according, each unit in line or column, 
the cavalry on the flank, the guns in the intervals. The pictures 
of the day, those famous sets, the Punjab Battles, portray what 
must be a fairly accurate presentation of the opening phases 
at any rate. Two of them especially, those representing Feroze- 
shah and Sobraon, commemorate incidents of dramatic impor- 
tance that the nation should never forget. 

The drama began, however, when the young baron Runjhit 
Singh hacked his way to power and welded the Sikh confederacy 
into a kingdom that for close on half a centruy was almost an 
empire. The kingdom of the Punjab, with his large army 
trained and organised by European derelicts of the Napoleonic 
wars, was the most serious rival to British dominion. Happily 
for himself, wise old Runjhit, to whom came everything from 
the Koh-i-nur to the Timur ruby, knew his limitations, and 
knew that to measure strength with the English was the quickest 
of all ways of bringing a kingdom to an end. But he had long 
known that his success and his dominion were a one-man affair. 
Polygamy is the curse of dynasties, and there are few enemies 
in the East like the sons of one father and different mothers. 
Sons of the same mother are very different things and may 
be, nay often are, faithful brothers to a ruling prince, but the 
half-brother is a deadly menace; wherefore, in well-conducted 
Asiatic kingdoms, the man with a noose comes round the 
half-brotherhood at the succession. 

In Runjhit's case, there were half-brothers but worthless 
ones, and no one knew it better than the great little man. It 



122 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

was he who told the Governor-General at Rupar a few years 
before his death: "After me there is nothing and that red 
frontier of yours must move up." 

And so it was. Shortly after the great durbar and review 
at Ferozepore on the Sutlej, where he and Lord Auckland met 
to start off the army of the Indus on its long road to Kabul 
and to cement the Tripartite treaty, the Lion of the Punjab 
was numbered with his fathers, and there soon commenced 
that series of murder and counter-murder at Lahore that shocked 
even the Courts of Central Asia. Then finally there remained 
but the infant Dhulip Singh, an evil, beautiful, and intriguing 
queen, and a rule of warring military Soviets. 

The tyranny and arrogance of the army were such that it 
became a matter of Court policy to drive them to their destruc- 
tion over the border into British India. On the other side of 
the curtain, the situation was full of difficulty. The frontier 
officers had warned the Government for some time that the 
Sikh army might cross the frontier at any moment. It was 
generally recognised as fortunate that this army had not done 
so during the Gwalior outbreak of two years earlier, when many 
influences were at work to appeal to the Hinduism of the Sikhs 
to fraternise with the out-of-hand Gwalior army. The Sikh 
soldiery, too, believed with little enough justification that it 
was their aid which had got us out of Afghanistan with credit, 
and their arrogance was not diminished thereby. 

Aggression might come from the Durbar — i.e. the Sikh 
Government itself — or from soldiery out of hand. The Sikh 
public, too, were equally apprehensive, though unreasonably 
so, that the British contemplated interfering to allay the appal- 
ling state of affairs existing at Lahore. The Rani herself had 
asked for such interference. 

The problem before the Governor-General, Sir Henry 
Hardinge, of Peninsula and Ligny fame, was how to be pre- 
pared without arousing Sikh fears and precipitating the situa- 
tion it was desired to avoid. There were some 7,000 troops 
on the frontier at Ferozepore, under Sir John Littler, where 



THE SIKH WARS 123 

the main road to Lahore crossed the Sutlej. There was a 
brigade at Ludhiana. There were the force at Umballa, and 
the troops in the Simla hills, and after that nothing till you 
reached Delhi and Meerut, and there was not a mile of railway 
in the length and breadth of Hindustan. 

The strategical alternatives lay between concentration and 
even withdrawal from the frontier, or moving not a man, but 
the collection of carriage and supplies ready to move at once 
to support the frontier troops. In any case the choice lay be- 
tween the folly of being caught by the Sikhs unconcentrated, 
or the worse evil of precipitating by movement the inroad that 
might not happen. Happily, the famous George Broadfoot, of 
Jalalabad repute, was agent to the Governor- General on the 
frontier, which meant there would be neither panic nor 
pusillanimity. 

The whole story is still one of thrilling interest, but it is not 
the purpose of this volume to follow in detail the high politics 
of the story, but rather to paint in its humanities the actual 
story of Ferozeshah and the drama of the midnight bivouac, 
when Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief, with their 
Staffs dead around them, prepared to sell their lives in the 
morning. The story is of the afternoon battle on the shortest 
day of the year 1845, of the bivouac of the Sikh trenches, the 
burning camps, the missing brigades, and the desperate advance 
at dawn, with the 3rd Light Dragoons flickering over the field 
like a lambent flame. It is also the battle-field of Snarleyow, 
and that " batt'ry of the corps " of which Kipling sings, having 
heard the true story of the Driver's Brother with 'his head 
between his heels' from old Quartermaster-sergeant Bancroft 
who lived to a great old age in the Simla Hills, and who served 
these campaigns in a troop of Bengal Horse Artillery. 

There are probably none left in India, and hardly one in 
England, who took part in the Sutlej campaign. One or two sur- 
vivors crawled up to see the King at Delhi, but that was twenty- 
one years ago. On the battle-field a while ago an old peasant 
told the writer how as a small boy he had helped his father make 



124 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

and sell coarse cakes to the British troops on that night of 
memory, and old folk will still talk of the Sikh gunners who 
died at their guns with bottles of rum tied to the wrist of their 
sponge-stave arms. A few mounds that cover the dead mark 
the field; and church and burial grounds at Ferozepore tell 
something of the tale. 

On December ioth or nth, there is some dispute as to the 
right date, the Sikh army crossed the Sutlej in force. The 
Governor-General with his whole outfit, including his band 
and all his papers, was near Ludhiana, and the Commander- 
in-Chief was at Umballa. Immediately the various forces moved 
to concentrate at Bassian; and the troops in the Simla Hills, 
British and Gurkha, were sent for in hot haste. The major 
portion of the force reached the mud village of Moodkee some 
twenty miles from Ferozepore, which was now invested by the 
Sikhs, on the afternoon of the 18th, after an appalling march 
of dust. The roads of those days were but tracks over friable 
soil, and the wells at the stages were all that marked them. 

The British army consisted of the divisions of Major- Generals 
Gilbert, Sir Harry Smith, and Sir John McCaskill, of Afghan 
fame, but the divisions had only two brigades, while several of 
the units had not come up. There were three brigades of cavalry. 

The country round was covered with scrub jungle and was 
absolutely flat, so that of visibility there was practically none. 
The Commander-in-Chief, Sir Hugh Gough, has been accused 
of being surprised by the Sikhs, but this is not so. There were 
cavalry patrols out, who reported clouds of dust advancing on 
Moodkee. But there is no doubt that the cavalry of those days 
were not pushed ahead, and the same is evident at Chillianwallah 
in the '49 campaign, where nothing was known of a few miles 
ahead of the force. The reports of advancing dust drew the 
tired troops from their bivouacs, which had been formed in a 
square round the village. The Chief himself took forward the 
cavalry and horse artillery, while the divisions deployed into 
line. The enemy formed line not far from the British who at 
once attacked, and in a short afternoon battle, hampered by 



THE SIKH WARS 125 

dust, dusk, and the smoke of jungle fires, put the Sikhs to flight 
and captured almost all their guns, suffering some eight or nine 
hundred casualties, some of which were probably self-inflicted in 
the confusion of the dust haze. 

The next evening four reinforcing battalions marched in, 
two of which were European, and it is on record that the 
Governor-General's band played them into camp. The night 
of the 1 8th was spent in collecting wounded and captured 
guns, and the Chief himself did not leave the field till 2 a.m., 
to return at dawn. The 19th and 20th were spent in clearing 
up, getting the reinforcements into their formations, and sending 
orders to Sir John Littler at Ferozepore. 

Sir Henry Hardinge asked the Chief to let him serve him 
in a military capacity, and was appointed Second-in-Command, 
which his rank as Lieutenant- General and his military reputa- 
tion well fitted him for. On the morning of the 21st the whole 
force marched at earliest dawn in the direction of what is 
generally known as Ferozeshuhr or Ferozeshah. The former 
name is usually used on the prints, the latter by Lord Gough. 
The former means the town of Firoze, the latter means the 
village or abode of gaffer Firoze, or, as it really is, gaffer Pheeru 
— i.e. Pheerushah. This village, the usual Punjab mud village 
with a high house or two in the centre, lay across the road to 
Ferozepore. About ten in the morning the force in line of 
columns arrived in front of the enemy who were found to be 
occupying a large entrenched horseshoe position round the village. 

The force halted and made a haversack breakfast, chiefly of 
" elephant's lug" 1 while the Commander-in-Chief prepared 
his battle plans, which were to attack the enemy from where 
he found himself, with the whole day before him. Sir John 
Littler had orders to march out from Ferozepore, eluding the 
Sikh force observing him on the left bank of the Sutlej under 
Tej Singh, and join him near Ferozeshah. This force (which 
did not march till 8 a.m.) would arrive in the early afternoon 

1 Coarse cake of whole meal, molasses and chopped straw, made as elephant 
ration. 



126 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

and be a timely reserve. At this stage the Governor-General 
abandoned his new position as Second-in- Command, and in- 
sisted on asserting his position as supreme head, and definitely 
ordered Lord Gough to wait the arrival of Sir John Littler. 

The force was then set in motion in column and moved 
round the Sikhs, towards Ferozepore, ready to deploy into line 
to its right, thus performing the evolution in the well-known 
Snipy Green story. Early in the afternoon it had reached the 
village of Shikur some 4,000 yards from the southern face of 
the Sikh horseshoe, and there effected a junction with Sir John 
Littler. The whole army then formed line of battle in the time- 
honoured form. 

And here begins the actual battle story with all the pomp 
and pageantry of an old-time army in its full dress. The British 
line was close on three thousand yards long, somewhat curved, 
to face the horseshoe, and barely a thousand yards from the 
enemy. Gilbert's division of two brigades on the right, then 
Wallace's division so called — little more than a strong brigade 
— and Littler's two brigades on the left, formed the front line, 
with Harry Smith's division in rear of the centre in reserve. 
Harriot's and Gough's cavalry brigades were on the left and 
left centre, and White's on the right. The guns were in line 
between the divisions, and were easily masked at the critical 
movements of the attack. 

At half-past three or thereabouts, on the shortest afternoon 
in the year, the British artillery opened on the Sikh trenches 
and guns, in reply to the Sikh fire which had been tearing through 
the scrub and thorn jungle, amid which the British were form- 
ing for battle. The horse artillery commenced the battle, but 
were hopelessly outclassed, and twice had they to limber up 
and advance to get within effective range. Their brigadier 
reported that he must advance closer or be blown from the 
field. The heavy Sikh artillery was destroying his guns and 
blowing up his tumbrils. 

The British artillery was well known to be too light, and for 
some time the Commander-in-Chief had been anxious to in- 



THE SIKH WARS 1 27 

crease its calibre. The horse artillery were practically the only 
horse-drawn guns, and they were armed with six-pounders. 
The nine-pounder field batteries were largely drawn by bullocks, 
and much slower to move and to handle. Shortly before this 
campaign a few of the field batteries had been horsed, and it 
had been proposed to arm the horse artillery with nine-pounders, 
and horse all the field batteries, bringing a twelve-pounder into 
the field drawn by bullocks. 

The actual force of artillery at Ferozeshah appears to have 
been six horse artillery batteries of six-pounders, four or five 
field batteries of nine-pounders, and one battery of 8-inch 
howitzers, and, speaking generally, this metal could not touch 
the Sikh guns, so much so that of the captured guns hardly 
one had been damaged, while one-third of the British guns or 
wagons had been struck and disabled. Thus the brunt of the 
battle fell on the infantry despite the utmost devotion on the 
part of the artillery. 

It was during this advance of the horse artillery to get to 
close grips with the Sikh guns that the incident of Snarleyow 
occurred, and we will give it in Sergeant Bancroft's own words: 

". . .A ball struck the polehorse of the waggon on which 
I was seated in the stomach, and in an instant the poor horse's 
intestines were hanging about his legs. I called to the rider 
informing him of the mishap, saying 'Tom! Tom (the man's 
name was Tom Connelly)! Snarleyow (the horse's name) has 
turned inside out, and his inwards are dangling about his legs.' 
Tom shouted to the corporal leading the team 'Joe! Joe! pull 
up ; Snarley's guts are hanging about his legs ! ' To which request 
the corporal coolly made answer: 'Begorra, Tom, I would 
not pull up at such a time, if your own guts were hanging out ! ' ' 
The incident with the 'Driver's Brother,' which is mingled in 
the poem with that of Snarleyow, had happened a few minutes 
earlier in that terrible duel of round shot. 

By now Littler's division, which had one European and five 
Sepoy battalions, commenced the attack somewhat prematurely, 



128 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

on the left, but coming on a heavy battery was repulsed with 
severe loss, in which H.M. 62nd suffered greatly. The second 
brigade of three Sepoy units for some unexplained reason 
rendered no assistance, and the division fell away in rear of 
the centre and took no more share in the battle. Wallace's 
weak division and Gilbert's two brigades had by now taken 
up the assault, and Sir Henry Hardinge ordered Harry Smith's 
division to fill a gap in the line. 

One brigade led by the General himself did so, amid dense 
dust and a heavy fire, and in immense confusion passed through 
the Sikh batteries and trenches picking up fragments of other 
corps, carrying the village of Ferozeshah, and reaching the 
enemy's camp beyond in great disorder. Eventually this mob 
fell back on the village, which was full of horses, camels, and 
trappings of the Sirdars, and Sir Harry rallied and sorted them 
around a firm nucleus of H.M. 50th. 

Gilbert's division, after severe loss, carried the trenches and 
batteries in its front, assisted by a brilliant charge of the 3rd 
Light Dragoons, who had piled the trench in their front with 
their own dead, and had swept through guns, tents, and camps 
in a wild torrent that destroyed all order in the Sikh interior. 
" Quadrupedante putrem sonitu quatit ungula campum" The 
earth shook and the trumpets blared, as the 3rd covered them- 
selves with even more glory than at Moodkee two days earlier, 
when they drove the Sikh horse screaming from the field, so 
that to this day even they are known as the " Moodkeewallahs" 
—"The men of Moodkee." 

" Trumpeter, what are you sounding now? 

(Is it the call I'm seeking?)" 

"Can't mistake the call," said the trumpeter tall, 

"When my trumpet goes a-speakin'. 

I'm urgin' 'em on, they're scamperin' on, 

There's a drummin' of hoofs like thunder, 

There's a maddening shout as the sabres flash out, 

For I'm soundin' the ' Charge ' ... no wonder." 



THE SIKH WARS 120, 

So it was hell for leather and devil take the hindmost, while 
Gilbert's men, with the old Chief in his white fighting coat 
among them, were bayoneting the gunners, and one of his 
brigades, apparently after Harry Smith's leading brigade had 
passed through, wheeled to its left and swept down the Sikh 
front, on the portion against which Littler had failed. 

It was now dark and the dust was appalling. The result of 
the Governor-General's interference that morning was apparent. 
Four or five hours of daylight had been lost, the whole army 
was involved, neither commanders nor units knew where the 
others lay, or how their neighbours right or left had fared. The 
Sikh camps were burning, tumbrils were exploding, Staffs were 
killed — Sir Henry Hardinge had had six gallopers killed and 
five wounded. The Sikhs, themselves, were rallying and in 
places counter-attacking. Oh, for an hour, a priceless hour, of 
daylight! The division for whose arrival the whole battle had 
been delayed and disarrayed had been knocked out and made 
of no effect at the very commencement. There had been no 
compensation for the loss of daylight. 

Eventually orders were given by the Commander-in-Chief to 
draw off Gilbert's division, and all who could rally thereto, to 
a position three hundred yards outside the Sikh trenches, and 
for all units to sound their assembly. Gradually those com- 
panies, battalions, and remnants who were within hail collected 
on the position thus marked, and it is this spot, with the Chief's 
and Sir Henry Hardinge's Staffs talking behind the lines of 
sleeping men, that is depicted in the ' Midnight Bivouac \ There 
was no food, there were no hospitals, there was no water. All 
over the field clumps of wounded and stragglers, formed often 
round the regimental surgeons, stayed where night had over- 
taken them lest worse befall. 

Littler's division had hidden itself in rear, and distant fires 
denoted its probable bivouac. Harry Smith and one of his 
brigades had disappeared from the ken of the chief command. 
As a matter of fact at about 3 a.m. that gallant commander, 
finding that the Sikhs were showing signs of coming on, and 



130 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

that his troops were done to a turn, slowly withdrew from 
Ferozeshah covered by his bedrock 50th. Making a circuit he 
eventually arrived at the village of Misreewallah some 2,000 
yards behind the main force, and near where Littler's division 
was licking its wounds. Sir Harry Smith records rinding here 
a cavalry brigade, some irregular horse, horse artillery, and 
some three thousand men from every regiment in the Army. 
He also ran into an excited officer of Army Headquarters, who 
told him that all was lost and that he was to retire to Ferozepore 
at once. This Sir Harry repudiated, and about dawn an officer 
named Christie, of Christie's horse, offered to take him to the 
Commander-in-Chief. 

In the main bivouac the two tried old soldiers, Gough and 
Hardings, determined to stick it out, and to attack again at 
dawn, repulsing all feebler counsels. But the Governor-General 
sent away his sword that the Duke had given him after Ligny, 
sent away to his secretary at Moodkee to be ready to destroy 
all his papers, and ordered off the field Prince Waldemar of 
Prussia 1 and his suite, of whom one had already been killed. 

During the night a Sikh heavy gun, to which the Sikh gun- 
ners had crept, opened at close range. Sir Henry himself set 
a party of the 80th to retake it, which they did cheering loudly. 
But in the Sikh camp, though the British leaders knew it not, 
disorder reigned supreme, and the Akali fanatics, turbulent as 
ever, were pillaging their own chiefs' camps. 

To this bivouac, forming at dawn for the fresh attack, the 
arrival of Sir Harry Smith, and his brigade, with many stragglers 
attached, was a godsend, and warmly was he welcomed by 
Sir Hugh Gough. 

Then the whole force swept forward in a cheering line, and 
carrying all before them, and capturing every Sikh gun, even- 
tually emerged in one triumphant line at the far north end of 
the horseshoe, and there burst into enthusiastic cheers as the 
Commander-in-Chief and his Second-in-Command, the 
Governor- General, rode together down it. 

1 Incognito as Count Ravensburg. 



THE SIKH WARS 131 

Hardly, however, had the night of sorrow turned to this 
dawn of joy, when news came that the whole of Tej Singh's 
army from Ferozepore was on them, and while the famished, 
dog-tired, if victorious army was changing its front to its new 
left, to meet this attack, the Sikh guns opened. Doggedly the 
battalions formed. The old Chief rode out with his staff to 
draw the fire while the packed battalions wheeled, and the 
tired and jaded cavalry tried to canter to the flanks. The glorious 
3rd Light Dragoons once more charged the Sikh horse, when, 
wonder of wonders, for the British artillery had spent their 
ammunition, the Sikh attack died away, and the great force 
slowly followed the discomfited units which were making for 
the Sutlej. 

Tej Singh later told Sir Henry Lawrence, that finding our 
troops holding against him those very trenches from which 
they had turned his countrymen, he felt that it would be folly 
to try to regain them from troops so invincible, and it is prob- 
able that this was his genuine reason. 

The weary victors found food and water in the Sikh position, 
and the wounded and many of the dead were carried to Feroze- 
pore, where the Governor- General established his headquarters, 
while the Commander-in-Chief slowly followed the Sikhs to 
the fords on the Sutlej and awaited a reinforcing artillery. 

Of Sir Harry Smith's clean-fought success at Aliwal, and the 
crowning victory at Sobraon with its destruction of the Sikhs 
in the river, this story does not pretend to deal. It has illus- 
trated the three well-known pictures, the Midnight Bivouac, 
the Advance in the Morning, and the Charge of the yd Light 
Dragoons, those dramatic scenes in one of the great dramas of 
British military history. It is not necessary to dwell on the 
controversies; unfortunately, great military events are so often 
followed by controversies. There was plenty of room for one 
in the overruling of Sir Hugh's plan of attack by Sir Henry 
Hardinge, with its results; there was the usual attack in the 
Press on Sir Hugh's methods of fighting, for in those days, to 
quote Sir Charles Napier, every unit contained in its ranks "an 



132 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

atrabilious correspondent," who criticised with only the know- 
ledge of his own company front. We may admit, with Sir 
Harry Smith, that the whole force was handled like an over- 
grown battalion, and that a shower of gallopers, who more often 
than not were killed, was the method of control. But with an 
enemy on an entrenched position and the arms of those days, 
a battle, like Waterloo, was an affair of close-order fighting 
in which control soon disappeared, and we can more safely 
criticise the habit of the Chief in leading his troops to battle 
instead of controlling them from the reserve. But we must 
remember that the Duke himself was compelled to do the 
same at Waterloo. 

Lord Gough's career in India and the mighty campaigns he 
fought have been the subject of much and bitter discussion, 
but we may attribute much of the criticism to the dislike of 
an army to heavy casualties, and being outmatched by heavy 
artillery, on meeting the most martial and best organised enemy 
it had yet met in India. It is always to be regretted that the 
papers and diaries of Sir Patrick Grant, his most intimate and 
most trusted Staff Officer, and the staff officer of all others 
trusted by all, during these campaigns, were accidentally burnt 
in later years. He could and possibly would have thrown a 
very different light on much that happened, including also those 
miserable days when he was making a new army to retake 
India in 1857. Some inkling of what he knew may be gathered 
from a paragraph in a private letter of Lord Dalhousie's: "You 
will see Pat Grant, who will give you quite a different impres- 
sion of that usually accepted as to where Harry Smith's force 
spent the night," or words to that effect. There was no doubt 
a feeling in the Army that they had not been handled to the 
best advantage, and the military headquarters ascribed this to 
the interference of the Governor- General. 

But none of these things mars the fighting glory nor the 
dramatic side of this striking picture, nor affects the hard fact 
that all the Sikh artillery, close on a hundred guns, remained 
in the victor's hands, and that the British had now time and 







Pi 

< 

« 

pa 

a 

C 

N 

o o 

O 53 
> H 



la 



[Face page 132 



THE SIKH WARS 133 

prestige to cover their concentration from below of sufficient 
force to finish the campaign and dictate terms in Lahore itself. 
Many curious incidents happened, none more so than the action 
of the sunstricken staff officer already referred to, whose orders, 
refused by Sir Harry Smith, sent some of the cavalry and most 
of the artillery marching to Ferozepore on the morning of the 
22nd, which may have further contributed to Tej Singh's half- 
heartedness. Sir Henry Hardinge relates how riding to Feroze- 
pore on the 23rd he met them returning, and fell on the brigadier 
in no measured terms, meeting also the mad staff officer in 
pyjamas, who explained that his breeches had been so riddled 
with grape that they had fallen off! 

The conduct of the Indian troops, that is to say, the Sepoys 
of the Bengal Line, almost exclusively in those days drawn 
from the high-caste peasantry of Oude and Behar, was much 
criticised. They had been heavily marched with little time for 
food, always a difficulty with the ceremonious Hindu feeder. 
They had had no food on the 21st and little enough water, 
with a double ration of dust. Sir Henry, who had commanded 
Portuguese troops led by British officers, said they "had done 
at Ferozeshah as well as the Portuguese would have done. 
The Sepoy like the latter had his good and his bad fighting 
days, and Ferozeshah was one of the bad ones. ,, 

Sir Henry himself records how, when he and the Chief rode 
down the victorious front on the morning of the 22nd amid 
the lowered colours and acclamations of the troops, an officer 
commanding a Bengal corps said to him: "Never pay attention 
to their shouts, there is hardly a man of them stayed the night 
with me," and that was a bitter thing to say in the hour of 
victory. 

At Sobraon, the crowning victory, when there was no doubt 
of British success, and the British gun park was as powerful as 
that of their foes, the sepoys fought with great determination. 
In the Punjab campaign, three years later, the same stories were 
rife, and it was said on both occasions that there was a mental 
dislike to sharing in the downfall in the last great Indian princi- 



134 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

pality. And it would be small wonder if there had been some 
stratum of truth in the statement. On the other hand religious 
feelings are an excellent pretext when feet are cold. Bagdad 
was very holy ground to Indian soldiery in '16 when rations 
were bad and prestige was low and Kut had fallen. Even the 
river steamers ceased to develop engine trouble when Maude 
was into Bagdad. 

But perhaps it is the old story, "pas a" argent, point de Suisse" 
in other words "pas de distribution, no fighting," for an army 
travels on its belly, and the troops at Ferozeshah and Chillian- 
wallah were very empty. So let us only remember the glory, 
and forget the to and fro of circumstance. Whatever the sepoy 
may have done, and however so much or so little he may have 
failed, there are no two words as to the majesty and dominion 
of the British soldier, horse and foot, and of none more than 
the 3rd Light Dragoons. 

Seventy miles out of Delhi by the Great North Road lies an 
old cantonment, long derelict, named Kurnal. It was long 
famous after the days of Lord Lake as the frontier station of 
Upper India, and Sir David Ochterlony long controlled frontier 
politics therefrom. To this day the Ochterlony House stands, 
thanks to Lord Curzon, a public monument, with the alabaster 
lions on the gateways that the old General brought from Italy. 

The cantonment was transferred to Umballa a few years 
before the Sutlej campaign, even the church was moved, save 
for its tower and its steeple, which also remains to this day. 
The vacant area was long occupied by the Stud Department, 
and to-day by the Army Dairies. In the old low vaulted barracks 
now used as cowsheds, inside a domed roof, is a painted trophy 
of the Royal Arms and Cypher, with the battle honours of the 
3rd Buffs and the 3rd Light Dragoons, and a soldier of each 
corps in the full dress of the 'forties as supporters. Ever since, 
some loving hand in Stud or Farms has repainted this big trophy, 
and the figures and the uniforms are as fresh as when painted 
over eighty years ago — and hardly a soul to see the green 
memory. 







[Face page 1 34 



THE SIKH WARS 135 

So we may leave the dead of Ferozeshah in the sure and 
certain hope. There were 694 dead on the field of battle, and 
1,721 wounded, of whom two-thirds were European. Many 
wounded died of their wounds, for 700 are buried at Ferozepore 
alone. "Both rich and poor of low degree," and among them 
George Broadfoot and D'Arcy Todd, famous and irreplaceable, 
while at Moodkee, two leaders of Afghan fame, Major-Generals 
Sir John MacCaskill and Sir Robert Sale, had ended the 
careers they had commenced in Spain. How better can we end 
such a story, than with another and the closing verse of Francis 
Barron's moving song? 

11 Trumpeter, what are you sounding now? 

(Is it the call I'm seeking?)" 

"Lucky for you if you hear it at all 

For my trumpet's but faintly speakhV. 

I'm callin' 'em home — Come home! Come home! 

Tread light o'er the dead in the valley 

Who are lyin' around, face down to the ground 

And they can't hear me sound the ' Rally.' 

But they'll hear it again in a grand refrain 

When Gabriel sounds the last 'Rally'." 



11. Chillianwallah 

January 13th, 1849 

Sabres drawn and bayonets fixed, 
Fight where fought Alexander; 
Oh Paddy Gough's a cross betwixt 
A bulldog and a salamander. 

The Sutlej Campaign or the First Sikh War, ended in the 
mudflats and fords of the Two Sobras, the plural name Sobraon 
being given to Gough's great victory. The last thing wanted 
was another British province and it was arranged to set up a 
guided Sikh Government, during the minority, of the only 
remaining son, of Runjhit Singh — son however, only by courtesy 
of an old man's vanity — the little Dhulip Singh. The magnani- 
mous and understanding Henry Lawrence stayed as Resident 



136 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

at the minority court and the pick of eager young shirt-sleeve 
Englishmen were lent to help the Durbar in its administrative 
troubles amid the remnant of its turbulent army. 

But circumstances conspired to upset the benevolent inten- 
tions of the British who had only detached the Afghan province 
of Kasmir and a small district in the Jullundur Doab from the 
Sikh kingdom. It happened that early in 1848 Mul Chand, 
Governor of the Multan province, had been asked for his 
revenue accounts, and preferred to resign rather than render 
them. The new Diwan accompanied by two British officers 
and some Durbar troops proceeded to take over. Some un- 
ruly Sikh troops attacked and wounded the British officers, 
who lying in the Edgah, were again attacked, this time by a 
force which Mul Chand had joined, and they were murdered. 
This incident, increased by the difficulty of moving British 
troops to the scene in the height of a Punjab hot season, spread 
to a rising of all the newly-constituted Sikh Army and many 
chiefs. Multan, a powerful fortress, was besieged by a British 
force, while Lord Gough assembled an army sufficient to cope 
with what was now a crisis of the first magnitude eagerly 
watched by all the elements of unrest in India. It is not pro- 
posed to follow the whole story, nor the stirring tale of Lieut. 
Herbert Edwards with frontier levies trying to stem the flood, 
nor how Multan was stormed and the bodies of the two murdered 
officers carried in triumph up the breach to their final burial. 
But the two main battles are almost the most famous in 
India, somewhat eclipsed in the niche of military fame by the 
tragedy of '57. By the autumn, while the British guns were 
still hammering at the thick mud bastions and curtains of 
Multan, Lord Gough's army had assembled by the end of '48, 
and moved to the "River of China," the Chenab, in the 
glorious cold season of the Punjab only hampered by the occa- 
sional cold winter rain. The great river had been successfully 
crossed and the army was moving up to the Jhelum, the 
Hydaspes of Macedon, in the gorges and jungles of which the 
Sikh Army was reported to be posted. 



THE SIKH WARS 137 

Because the battle which followed is one of much contro- 
versy, a controversy which has only just re-echoed in a Sunday 
paper of 1932 in the matter of an apocryphal order "Threes 
About, and damn the baggage !" it will be of interest to examine 
the battle field itself, with more detail than usual. It is also 
an interesting object of pilgrimage for those in the Punjab. 

Chillianwallah lies three or four miles south of the canal 
colony at Rasul on the Jhelum, and is best reached from Rasul 
itself on a branch line, or from Chillianwallah Road on the 
Sind-Sagar line between Lala Musa and the Malakwal bridge 
over the Jhelum. Rasul is one of the two possible places at 
which Alexander could have crossed the Jhelum, when he 
forced the ford in the face of Porus and utterly defeated him. 
The battlefields therefore between British and Sikh, and Greek 
and Indian, were probably almost identical. 

Now to reconstruct the battlefield. Lord Gough having 
crossed the Chenab, by a series of difficult manoeuvres, was 
advancing in January, 1849, to Drm g the Sikh army to battle. 
That army was, he knew, posted and entrenched on the heights 
near Rasul across one of the roads from Peshawur to Lahore. 
The Kharian ridge dies away to a low rolling down just by 
Rasul, and on the southern extremity of the ridge and on the 
downs, the Sikh army was posted, the village of Rasul being 
near their centre, their right stretching round to Moong. Behind 
the ridge, between it and the Jhelum, and on the ridge itself, 
lay their camps. Their position covering the ford was provided 
with a perfect glacis of sloping grass. 

The British-Indian army consisted of Thackwell's cavalry 
division, and Gilbert's and Colin Campbell's infantry divisions. 
Marching up the unmetalled track from Ramnagar via Dhinga 
to Rasul, on the 13th of January, the army, according to one 
of the alternative plans in its commander's mind, turned off 
the track about mid-day and halted before a typical mud village 
of the Punjab — the village of Chillianwallah. 

The day was one of those perfect soldiering days that make 
up a Punjab cold weather; cold and crisp with clouds on the 



138 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

horizon, and the snowy range of the Pir Panjal on the right 
flank of the army. 

The troops were in their ordinary winter clothing, mostly 
in full dress, scarlet and blue coatees, white duck or drab 
trousers, shakos and white cross belts, the Native Infantry clad 
in close representation of the British Line, and the regular 
Native Light Cavalry like the British dragoon. 

There had not been much incident that morning. The army 
had traversed a dead level plain, covered with big patches of 
bher jungle alternating with clearings and fields, with the normal 
mud village every three or four miles. There had been caper- 
ings of Sikh horse in the scrub in front, and a Sikh outpost 
had been driven from a mound close to the village of Chillian- 
wallah (Cheelianwallah is the local pronunciation), while away 
in the distance the Sikh camps were plainly visible on the Rasul 
heights. 

Soon after noon the army was forming up close to the village 
to wait while the quartermasters were parcelling out the camping 
ground. The light would fail early. The Sikhs were apparently 
in position three or four miles away, their position needed 
careful reconnaissance, and Lord Gough had decided to camp. 

There was the usual lull while troops are waiting to move 
to their camps; officers were looking about; one account by 
two young officers states that they had climbed up into a tree 
to get a view, as the whole front of Chillianwallah was covered 
with bher scrub. They saw crowds of Sikhs in the jungle, 
barely a mile off, perhaps less. Suddenly from out of the scrub 
a Sikh battery, and then several others, opened fire, bowling 
round shot into camp. 

The British heavy artillery was ordered into action near the 
mound in front of the village, and played for some little time; 
then early in the afternoon came the order for the whole force 
to advance in line, save one brigade. Presumably the force 
advanced much as it was forming up to camp, Colin Campbell's 
division on the left, Gilbert's on the right, Pope's cavalry 
brigade on the right, White's cavalry brigade on the left. 



THE SIKH WARS 139 

We here come to the stage when it is possible to compare 
the accounts of the battle with the ground as it is now. It is 
thought by many that the jungle is now less than in 1849, but it 
is a question if there is really much change. Neville Chamberlain 
speaks of patches and belts of scrub, and that exactly describes 
the ground to-day. We know that both divisions advanced, 
and that it was impossible to maintain much formation, while 
brigades and their supporting batteries lost all touch. Each 
brigade fought its own battle, hammer and tongs, at the closest 
range. The accounts of the battle and the plans all show a 
Sikh position on a rise something less than a mile west of the 
village. But, as a matter of fact, the rise, especially from the 
Chillianwallah side, is almost imperceptible (though writers 
who weren't there talk of "storming the glacis"). What seems 
to have been the case was that the brigades, struggling through 
the scrub came across an irregular clearing a hundred yards or 
so wide, with more scrub beyond, and the Sikh guns were 
drawn up at the edge of this. Crossing this open scrub, swept 
at close ranges with grape and musketry, is where the heavy 
losses must have occurred. 

It was a short battle on a short winter afternoon, with gather- 
ing clouds in the sky. Lord Gough had evidently felt he could 
not camp in such a jungle without attacking the enemy, who 
were almost touching him. Towards dusk the brigades had 
won through the scrub towards a line of villages more in the 
open. As night was approaching, and the Sikhs had fallen 
back, Lord Gough was urged to withdraw to his camp, but 
delayed doing so till very late, to allow of his wounded being 
collected ; but, as a matter of fact, it was impossible to get them 
all in, so scattered and hidden were they by the scrub. 

The main incidents of the fight are well known. The heavy 
losses of H.M. 24th is perhaps the fact most remembered. This 
battalion went into the fight over a thousand strong and lost 
11 officers and 193 men killed, and 10 officers and 268 men 
wounded, with 38 men missing. The accounts tell of how, 
after advancing with difficulty through the scrub, they came 



140 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

into an open space with a deep swamp between them and the 
Sikh guns, and here is where so much of their loss occurred. 
It is hard at first to locate this piece of ground, for there is no 
sign of a swamp in December. But two circumstances locate 
it quite clearly. One writer speaks of the 24th going through 
a dak jungle, another says that the 24th dead were not brought 
in to the main graves. Now about 1,500 yards from Chillian- 
wallah to the right of the Moong road, are the only dak trees 
for some miles ; to the left of the road are three enclosures with 
unnamed trench graves, while in front of the dak jungle are 
some dry buffalo wallows, and coarse vlei grass. After Christmas 
rains this would no doubt appear a formidable obstacle when 
swept by grape at point blank range. The exact spot where 
the 24th charged can therefore be clearly located, even in this 
extremely featureless battlefield. The 24th went into action, 
it is interesting to read, in their full dress, and most of their 
shakos were pulled off in the thorn scrub. The 29th Foot, in 
the other division, were wearing forage caps and shell jackets. 
The Central Library at Army Headquarters in Simla, con- 
tains an interesting instance of the confliction of accounts of 
events. In ThackwelPs Narrative of the Second Sikh War, 
p. 163, it is stated, "The 24th lost its colours and much ammu- 
nition. " A reader has added the following comment in the 
margin: — "I saw Phillips tie the Queen's colour round his waist 
after tearing it from its staff. When we found him among the 
killed next morning, the colour was recovered. — /. A." Another 
reader has scribbled " Untrue. I had the honour of placing those 
very colours in St. Mary's Church, Warwick, in 1869. — E. C. 
Capt. 24th." 

Laurence Archer gives an interesting account of the rallying 
of the 24th outside Chillianwallah by remnants of companies, 
and the return of the few remaining men of that regiment to 
the fighting line. 

The rest of the battle-field gives no clue to any particular 
incidents, and all one can do is to imagine this line of brigades 
advancing simultaneously, but soon losing direction in the 



THE SIKH WARS 141 

jungle, emerging just in front of the Sikh guns, each fighting 
its own desperate bayonet fight, supported so far as possible 
by such of the British guns as could force a way through the 
scrub. Contemporary accounts describe the enthusiasm of the 
first advance in line. (Thackwell and Laurence Archer.) 

The losses amounted to 2,338 killed and wounded (of whom 
22 British and 16 Native officers were killed, and 659 men 
killed or missing), and were fairly well distributed through all 
corps, European and Native. The fears openly expressed that 
the Poorbeah regiments were in league with the Sikhs through 
the Poorbeahs in the Sikh regiments appear to have been quite 
unfounded. (Poorbeah = Easterner, i.e.: Oude man.) 

The Sikh losses were very heavy also, and to this day the 
people round will tell you, as Lord Gough always averred, that 
it was at Chillianwallah they were beaten, and that Goojerat 
was a walk-over. The fight was to a great extent with the regular 
Sikh army, clothed something like our own men, and till 
recently trained by Europeans. There is no doubt that they 
were heavily drugged. One account mentions a dead Sikh 
gunner with a bottle of spirits tied to his wrist. Their gunners 
died at their guns, but though almost all their guns were 
at one time in our possession, only 12 of the lightest were 
secured. 

The confusion following the battle may easily be imagined. 
The baggage of two divisions and three cavalry brigades was 
around Chillianwallah, guarded only by one cavalry brigade. 
The troops found their way back to camp after dark; there 
was no defensive position; all was a tangle. Lord Gough 
apprehended an attack on his camp by the Sikh irregulars, 
and to add to the misery it came on to rain — the cold rain of 
a Punjab winter. 

All night long the Sikhs roamed the deserted battle-field, 
withdrawing their abandoned guns and massacring any British 
wounded they could find. There is one pitiful story of the doing 
to death of a very minute wounded English drummer boy. 
Most of the dead were slashed across the mouth, and the ghastly 



142 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

grin their faces presented was a horrible sight. Most of the 
bodies had been stripped, and the marble-white of the European 
corpses after the night's rain, was in ghastly contrast to the 
black of the natives. Many of the stripped bodies seemed to 
have been dragged through the thorn bushes, so much were 
they torn. 

An attempt was made to collect the dead at the Chillianwallah 
mound, and a great many are buried in the long trenches there. 
A contemporary account however tells that camels were sent 
out to collect them, and that before long the indecent sight of 
corpses lashed on the camels coming into camp, was too hor- 
rible and demoralizing, and that the remainder were buried 
out where they fell. This explains these three large nameless 
graves on the south of the Moong road. 

The big graves on the mound are well cared for. There are 
several long trench graves covered with masonry, and one or 
two individual graves. The whole is within a double enclosure, 
and a high red sandstone obelisk with inscriptions is a land- 
mark for many miles round. Outside the enclosure is a hand- 
some cross erected by Lord Mayo, on which are inscribed 
the names of all the officers, British and Native, who fell. 
The ages of two old subahdars is given, one being seventy, and 
the other sixty-five, both, by their names, Brahmins of Oude. 
In their days the oldest soldier in a battalion of Bengal Infantry 
was the senior native officer, and he served practically till he 
died. 

There is little more to be seen on the ground. It is inter- 
esting to notice that the dreaded ravine at Rasul, " several 
hundred feet deep," is not more than 150 feet deep, and, 
running out at right angles to the position, was not an effective 
obstacle. 

Armies do not like heavy casualties without complete victory, 
and loud and deep were the grumblings after Chillianwallah, 
though always drowned by the cheers of the men, whenever 
the little white-haired chief appeared among them, and all 
and sundry rejoiced at the complete success that was to crown 



THE SIKH WARS I43 

his arms, before his successor arrived. The British public 
had been frightened by the unnecessarily gloomy reports of 
what had happened. The Governor- General had expressed 
his fears, and gallant, pernicketty, yet purposeful old Sir 
Charles Napier, the victor of Sind, had been dug out, and 
was on his way — "Old Fagin " as the Army called him. The 
Duke of Wellington had said to him "if you don't go, I must." 
So Sir Charles, the old campaigner packed razor and tooth- 
brush, and started for the East once more, old in years, worn in 
health, young in heart. 



in. The Battle of Goojerat 
February 21st, 1849 

The panorama now rolls on to another scene that was 
once and for all to bring back under one control the Punjab, 
the lost province of the Mogul Empire, which was being re- 
built on surer lines. The Battle of Goojerat was the last great 
battle against an organised Indian force, and it was well fought 
and a crowning victory. 

On January 13th was fought that genuine soldiers' battle 
just described in the scrub and the mud-swamps about Chillian- 
wallah. The army had fought it out corps by corps, regiment 
by regiment, and the difficulties in disentangling in the dark 
have been explained. Gradually the troops collected in 
bivouac near the village, and then it came on to rain, the 
bitter cold, driving rain and fog of a Punjab winter. There 
were many dead to bury and more wounded to collect, and 
the rain had turned the soil to that butterlike state so peculiar 
to the "pat" of Upper India. The camels could not move, 
and the troops huddled in their bivouacs, while the cavalry 
could not reconnoitre, and all was misery. Gradually, however, 
the army recovered itself, as armies will, and the rain cleared 
away, spirits rose, and sepoys pipe-clayed their belts and un- 
tied their ears, and the army became an army once again. 



144 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

Over the way, not three miles off, lay the Sikh army, hard hit, 
no doubt, by that desperate winter afternoon's struggle in the 
thorn jungle, but still an army in being, with its spirits also 
rising. It lay in two halves. The regular portion, the regiments 
of the Durbar, nominally in revolt against their rulers, in 
reality at war with the British on behalf of those rulers, held 
the spurs and ridges of the mountains that bordered the Jhelum 
river about the village of Rasul. The second portion, the 
irregulars, lay clear of the hills lower down the Jhelum among 
the villages and the thick jungle that lay on its banks. Hard 
by the battle-field now stand the headworks of a magnificent 
canal irrigating hundreds of square miles of wheat-land, and 
right through the centre of the Sikh position another now 
winds to conduct a fresh head of water to more arid lands. 

So Lord Gough sat at Chillianwallah and straightened out 
his army, and the Sikhs also sat over the way a-watching him, 
and neither liked the other's looks, but while the Sikhs sat in 
a barren tract, the British had the fertile portion of the Punjab 
behind them. Lord Gough had made up his mind that matters 
were too serious to take any risks, and that when next he fought 
he would fight to a finish, so he decided that he would wait 
till Multan was captured, and the troops besieging it able to 
march to join him. From this decision — whether it was wise 
or whether it was foolish — neither the adjurations of Lord 
Dalhousie (the Governor- General at Lahore) nor the repre- 
sentations of the civil and political officers in his camp could 
move him. He recognised, no doubt, that prestige was of almost 
paramount importance. Of quite paramount importance, how- 
ever, in his eyes was his ability to win the next battle, not by 
merely holding his ground after it, but by achieving another 
Sobraon. To be sure of this he wanted more men and, above 
all, more guns, and heavy guns at that. 

January 25th brought the news that Multan had fallen on 
the 22nd, and the bodies of the murdered Anderson and Vans 
Agnew had been carried to their final burial-place up and over 
the breaches. The fall of Multan released the reinforcements 




W) 

C 

t_ '5b 
< % 

O - 

1 

fa *-' 

O jg 



I 

M 
C 



s 



[Face page 144 



THE SIKH WARS 145 

so anxiously awaited. General Whish's division of the Bengal 
Army and Colonel Dundas' Bombay column were moved as 
fast as possible up the banks of the Chenab to join the Com- 
mander-in-Chief, who was still watching Shere Singh and his 
Sikhs in front of Rasul. Behind the Rasul position and the 
Khoree pass, between the rugged hills and the river Jhelum, 
was a long strip of fields and flats that could hide and encamp 
many thousands of troops. On February 2nd Shere Singh 
was reported to have left a garrison in the Rasul trenches, 
and was found to have moved away north behind these same 
hills, to emerge on the 5th on the British side of the Khoree 
pass, a few miles from Lord Gough's camp, where he remained 
in rear of the village of Khoree. Here he was watched from 
a British outpost established on a mound near to the village of 
Mugnawallah in earthworks and gun-pits which may be seen 
to this day. The next day this outpost had to fall back, and 
Lord Gough was sore beset to attack the enemy as they lay at 
Khoree. His Excellency, however, would not be stirred from 
his original plan, wrangle his advisers as they wished. The 
guards on the Chenab fords were strong, and he did not con- 
sider it possible for Shere Singh to break across that river back 
to the Rech Doab and the vicinity of Lahore. Rather he 
anticipated that they would make for the well-supplied tracts 
of country on the right bank of the Chenab in the Chajh Doab. 
Here we may note a quaintness of nomenclature in the land 
of the five rivers. The term doab, which is Persian for two 
rivers, is applied to the land between any two adjacent rivers. 
The doabs formed by the five rivers are called by names made 
up of the initials of the two rivers that enclose a particular doab. 
The Chajh Doab is the territory between the Chenab and the 
Jhelum, The Rech Doab that between the Ravi and the Chenab, 
and so on. 

On February nth the Sikhs advanced from Khoree out into 
the open towards the British camp. Lord Gough wrote to 
Lord Dalhousie to say that he considered this an attempt 
to draw him out so that the masses of irregulars in the Moong 



I46 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

jungles could rush his camp and supplies. At any rate he 
refused to attack, and the army of the Khalsa marched away 
from Khoree to Goojerat on February 14th, to take up a position 
between the fort there and the river Chenab opposite the old 
town of Wuzeerabad, which was what the British headquarters 
expected them to do. On the 16th Lord Gough moved the 
whole of his force from Chillianwallah to the Chenab by four 
short marches, with his troops in fighting formations and his 
baggage well guarded. At Tricca on the 18th the force from 
Multan came up, and on the 20th the joint forces deployed 
for battle and advanced a short distance to a line in rear of 
the village of Shadiwal. 

War is not all evil, and every campaign, even among the 
less civilised races, is enlightened by the flow of the milk of 
human kindness and high feeling. An incident of this battle 
is well worth remembering. George Lawrence, a prisoner 
among the Sikhs, was sent in on parole just before the battle 
to interview Lord Gough. Shere Singh probably half hoped 
he might abscond and be a friend at court. He, however, 
returned true to his bond, and what was undoubtedly a very 
precarious position, since Easterns in the hour of defeat make 
short shrift of prisoners, as witness Maclean's murder after 
Maiwand. As George Lawrence rode back into the Sikh lines, 
the host of the Sikhs cheered him enthusiastically, even as the 
ranks of Tusculum cheered Horatius. It is such conduct that 
has ever appealed to men of all creeds and races. 

It is impossible to dwell on the battles of the Sikh wars with- 
out alluding to the controversies which raged regarding them, 
and Lord Gough's conduct of the campaign. The victories of 
the Sutlej campaign were, it will be remembered, extremely 
costly ones. How far this was due to leading or to a want of 
training, as a field force, of the armies of those days is a very 
moot point, and one which can never be satisfactorily settled, 
unless the desks of the dead have more documents yet to yield. 
Right or wrong, competent or incompetent, we know one thing 
for certain, that His Excellency Lord Gough of the Sutlej was 



THE SIKH WARS 147 

as straight and gallant an old soldier as ever served the Crown, 
and a well-determined leader, whom the troops cheered madly 
whenever they saw him, as they did another Indian soldier of 
slight stature and high prowess, in our own day. 

We also know that the headquarters of the army in India 
were quite unorganised for war, and that a staff capable of 
handling Indian armies of that size against a first-class adver- 
sary had not been created. He had no adequate machine to 
hand to translate the determination of his intentions into terms 
of competent manoeuvre. He was surrounded with the memory 
and tradition of that political service of India, whose manage- 
ment of the Afghan wars had been so criticised by the army. 
Attached to his force were many competent young soldier- 
civilians whose position in their relations to the Commander- 
in-Chief of a force in the field and the Government of India 
was not so definite as is now the case. We know that some of 
them urged courses on the Commander-in-Chief which he 
would not accept. We are told by his biographer that this 
move to Goojerat, and offer of battle by the Sikhs in an open 
plain, was exactly what Lord Gough had known must come 
to pass, and that this move was the only thing that the Sikhs 
under the circumstances could do. Many people have written 
many accounts, and distinguished soldier-politicals such as 
Sir Henry Lawrence and Sir Henry Durand had criticisms to 
offer. The further study with the light of full information has 
certainly shown that the charge of hurling his army at Chillian- 
wallah against a powerful unreconnoitred position was inaccu- 
rate. Even the plans of the battle of Chillianwallah exaggerate 
the ground, and tend to show that the Sikhs held a ridge, 
instead of being posted on an imperceptible slope, in a position 
to which they had moved to attack the British, which was the 
actual case. But because this charge had been levelled it was 
the fashion of the day, and for many years after, to say that 
this victory of Goojerat was fought on equally foolish lines 
and that the victory, both strategical and tactical, was all an 
accident Mr. Robert Rait, in his biography of Lord Gough, 



148 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

puts forward the view held by the ardent admirers of the gallant 
old man, while those who may not, perhaps, admit the full 
claim for prescience and generalship are quite content to feel 
that results fully justified measures, and that at any rate the 
bulk of the criticism came from unworthy or misinformed 
sources. To a student of the conditions of the army in India 
in those days, it is clear that the army itself was not a machine 
from which the best results could be obtained. It was not 
from financial reasons an "army in being," for its essential 
services were not on a mobilizable business footing. The native 
portion of the Bengal Army was fast going down the scale of 
efficiency. The two Services — the Queen's and the Company's 
— were by no means always cordial. The troops were not 
trained as an army for war, and troops, commanders, and staff 
were for the most part untrained in their war formations. 

However that may be, we have now reached the stage in the 
narrative when we may leave controversy and criticism behind 
and step out into that magnificent panorama that faced the 
army of the Punjab, on that spring morning in Northern India, 
eighty-three years ago. 

Of all the glorious mornings which it is the privilege of man- 
kind to enjoy, a fine morning in the cold season in the Punjab 
is second to none. Those who now journey to the north by 
the early train from Lahore or march up the Grand Trunk Road 
from Wazirabad (as we now can write it) pass Goojerat and 
see the same sight as burst on that army, less, however, the 
splendid panoply of war and the excitement of coming battle. 
From the railway line which runs north to Peshawur, and 
from the great Trunk Road, the turnpike of the King-Emperor, 
as from the British bivouacs by Shadiwal, stretch the plains 
of the Chajh Doab i almost unbroken save for the young corn- 
shoots of the wheat-fields, with the typical Punjab villages 
rising at intervals across the plain. Rising, because each village 
emerges from the ruins of its predecessor, generation in, genera- 
tion out, since the days when Alexander came down from the 
passes and Prince Gautama preached his message of peace. 



THE SIKH WARS 149 

On the potsherds and plinths of the past each village stands, 
a castle unto itself. Distant some three miles, the small town 
of Goojerat towered high over the plain in the morning sun, 
but behind it, glory of glories, stood as it still stands, so close 
that you might think you could throw a stone to it, the great 
Pir Panjal, the unbroken line of snow that forms the outer 
Himalaya. Peak on peak, serrated, dazzling, clear cut, with a 
breeze blowing from it, fit to stir every pulse in the men of the 
Northern races, white or brown, that felt it, such was the set- 
ting of the "crowning victory." 

The British were under arms in the sharp, raw cold of the 
dawn, ere the rising sun bathed the peaks in red, and by half- 
past seven commenced to advance in fighting formation, the 
three divisions of the army in line. The actual troops that 
were present were the two divisions that had taken part in the 
battle of Chillianwallah, with the troops from Multan added. 
There had been, however, some change in the commanders. 
The " order of battle" of the army was as follows: — 

4. t\- • • /wi.- u\ I Markham's Brigade 

1st Division (Whlth) . J Haryey , s Briga | e 

I Mountain's Brigade 
2nd Division (Gilbert) . Penny's Brigade 

iMcLeod's Brigade 

3rd Division (Campbell's). { JJoggan's Brigade 
J v r ' I Carnegie s Brigade 

Bombay Column (Dundas) 

The cavalry had hitherto been formed into four brigades, but 
for the battle the 3rd Brigade was merged in Hearsey's and 
the whole under Sir J. Thackwell were brigaded as follows: 
1 st Brigade (White), four regiments; 2nd Brigade (Lockwood), 
two regiments; 4th Brigade (Hearsey), one regular, and five 
irregular corps. The 5th and 6th Light Cavalry from White's 
and Lockwood's Brigades, and the 45th and 69th N.I. from 
McLeod's and Carnegie's Brigades, formed the reserve and 
baggage guard, together with the Bombay Light Field Battery. 
The brigades consisted only of infantry, the artillery of the army 



150 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

remained as what we should now call "army troops," under 
Brigadier-General J. Tennant, to be distributed as required 
on the day of battle. The exact number of guns is somewhat 
a matter of controversy, but it was probably eighty-eight. The 
actual troops and batteries present were nine troops of horse 
artillery, four light field batteries, and eighteen heavy guns 
distributed in four batteries. These latter were under the 
subordinate command of Brigadier Huthwaite. The doubt 
as to the exact number of guns is due to a want of clear 
record as to whether they were all at full strength after 
the losses at Chillianwallah and the formation of certain 
detachments. 

The 4th troop in each brigade in the Bengal Horse Artillery 
was a native troop, and there were three native troops on the 
field. The light artillery was chiefly horse artillery. The troops 
of Warner, Duncan, and Huish were with the cavalry, the 
remainder distributed among the divisions, except Lane and 
Kindleside, who were at first in reserve. 

The sappers and pioneers were commanded by Captain 
Siddons, Brigadier Cheape being the chief engineer with the 
army. 

This battle, which we have now arrayed, was the last to be 
fought in India under the old conditions of dress and manoeuvre. 
The last of the carefully dressed battle lines, with markers out. 
The last appearance of coatee and shako, and white cross belts, 
at any rate on the British side. The age of sun helmets and 
khaki, and cotton coats, and utility was approaching, and the 
Crimea was to lay the ghost of General Pipeclay. It was the 
last appearance of the staff in long blue frock coats, the last 
of the old panorama. It is true that Tombs' troop of horse 
artillery marched out of Meerut to the battles on the Hindun, 
and the siege of Delhi, one sultry morning in May of '57 in 
their brass helmets and dress jackets, but that passed to shirt- 
sleeves in no time. Even marching out, Tombs tore the high 
red collars from off the horse artillery jackets lest his men die 
of heat-stroke, and some even then thought the end of the 



THE SIKH WARS 151 

world was coming therefore. But Goojerat was the last to see 
it en masse. 

The army was drawn up in the grey of the morning in the 
following order: — 

On the right. — The 1st Division, Harvey's Brigade in the 
front line, Markham's in rear in support. 

In the centre. — The 2nd Division, both brigades in line. 

On the left centre. — The 3rd Division, McLeod's and Carnegie's 
Brigades in front, Hoggan's in support. 

On the left. — Dundas' Bombay Brigade. 

Thackwell's and White's Cavalry Brigades were on the left 
again, with Lockwood's and Hearsey's Brigades on the right. 
The artillery was for the most part distributed among the 
brigades between the intervals. 

The British right was covered by the Chenab, and the Sikh 
left by a wet nullah which ran into that river. Parallel to the 
line of advance, and running through the centre of the British 
advance and the Sikh position, was a dry nullah. A dry nullah 
of the Punjab will be familiar to many. Here and there a pool 
sheltering a snipe or two, a teal or an old drake mallard, steep 
at the bends on one side and sloping grass on the other, with 
an odd mimosa-tree now and again, and a few sand-hillocks 
with jerboa rats scampering about, just the everyday terrain 
of the plain. Then again, over the valley of the Chenab, flights 
of Kunj or coulon or of wild geese disturbed by the troops 
wheel and return . . . just a peaceful morning scene with 
here and there a Gujar maiden with her goats. Then, in front 
of the British, the rising mound and high brick tenements of 
Goojerat, with the cluster of mud-houses below and reddening 
wall of snow behind. A mile in front of the town stood the 
village of Kalra Kalan, or Great Kalra, also called Burra Kalra, 
and a mile or so to the right Kalra Khurd, or Little Kalra, also 
called Chota Kalra, another village on the bank of the wet 
nullah. The main Sikh position was reported as running straight 
across the plain between the wet and dry nullahs, with its 
right thrown back along the dry nullah, and its left in the 



152 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

village of Little Kalra. Great Kalra was held as an advanced 
post in advance of this position, which was between three and 
four miles in length. The greater portion of the Sikh and 
Afghan horse was stationed out on the Sikh right on the far 
side of the dry nullah. The Sikh forces, regular and irregular, 
were estimated at some 60,000, with 60 guns; the British num- 
bered 20,000, with 88 guns. 

At half-past seven in the morning, with the sun above the 
horizon and the whole panorama standing out in all its glory, 
the British army moved forward. It presented an appearance 
such as is only now to be seen at some big review. The troops 
in their British scarlet or blue, great masses of quarter-columns, 
with a forest of bayonets a-top, lines of moving guns, masses 
of formed horse, white belts and clean accoutrements catching 
the sun at every point. Pipe-clayed belts are an evil, no doubt, 
so great that no one dare say anything in their favour, but in 
the days when men fought in serried rank, and success meant 
the timely onward movement of masses of men into the teeth of 
belching guns, the psychical bond that this meticulous atten- 
tion to trivialities undoubtedly called into being was of very 
genuine import. Even to this day the corps that are known 
to be always trustworthy are as neatly dressed and accoutred, 
though the cleaning process is simpler, than in those days of 
white belts and scarlet and gold in the field. As the white 
chalk-line will hypnotise the fowl, so did the white belts exer- 
cise over men's minds a discipline of a nature that suited many 
of the conditions of the day. 

So the three British Divisions, with their attendant arms and 
services, moved forward at a steady pace, and as they moved 
those on the left and centre heard a curious rising sound away 
on the right. It was Lord Gough coming down the line in his 
well-known fighting coat (a white coat that covered his general's 
frock, and showed the world where to find him). The Com- 
mander rode and the soldiers cheered, cheered like mad for 
love of the little man and for other reasons. Cheer because it 
is good to raise a wave of enthusiasm when it is to be bayonet 



THE SIKH WARS 153 

and round-shot. Good to cheer because it has been cold and 
dreary waiting in the grey dawn and nerves are not at their 
best, also it is good to think, what you had really began to doubt, 
that you are a fine fellow ready to do anything, and so forth. 
And so the army cheered heartily, and felt the better for it, 
and as the Chief rode along the cheering rolled along the line, 
and borne on the breeze did, no doubt, assist to remind the 
Khalsa army of what the survivors had said of Sobraon. There 
are many, no doubt, who will remember just such a cheer 
spreading round the camps at Modder River when Lord Roberts 
rode round on his arrival there. That cheer also voiced various 
emotions, for armies are entities that only the skilled player 
can work on. 

When the moving line had reached the village of Haria- 
wallah, on the banks of the dry nullah, the Sikh gunners caught 
sight of the gun-elephants of the heavy batteries, and, their 
nerves being not quite at the old standard, opened a distant 
fire, which was not their wont. This revealed what had not 
been precisely known — viz., the exact locality of their main 
positions and of their batteries. At nine o'clock, when the 
British infantry were still out of range, the line halted and the 
British artillery now moved to the front. For two and a half 
hours the army possessed its soul in patience, while the guns 
hammered down the heavy Sikh metal and trundled round-shot 
through their reserves. That is one of the good points of the 
old round-shot artillery. If you did not hit what you aimed 
at, the ball went on, loblolly, with a hop and a skip, now taking 
off a leg, now trundling a lane through a column of horse, and 
till its last momentum was spent it had a power for evil. Not 
so the spattering shrapnel and the high explosive shell. Where 
they burst they lie. 

As the sun stood at high twelve Lord Gough rushed two of 
the lighter batteries forward in the centre, close to the village 
of Great Kalra, and ordered General Gilbert to occupy that 
village. The advance of these guns drew a tremendous fire 
from some Sikh batteries behind it, and a heavy musketry fire 



154 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

burst out from its walls (it had been imagined unoccupied) and 
the neighbouring hamlet of Kot Kalra. The 2nd Bengal Euro- 
peans from Penny's Brigade advanced to the storm, and finally 
captured the bigger village, but with very heavy loss, indeed 
the principal casualties of the day occurred here. With Kalra 
taken, the whole line pushed on, its guns moving with it, and 
the next severe piece of work was in front of Little Kalra (or 
Kalra Khurd) on the British right. This village was also strongly 
held and was carried by Harvey's Brigade, the ioth Foot 
leading, which likewise suffered heavily. Against our left, an 
attempt was now made to make a strong counter-attack, by the 
large masses of Ghorcherras (Sikh irregular horse) and Afghans 
supported by the Sikh infantry, from the bed of the dry nullah. 
This was, however, met by Campbell's Division, charged by 
the Scinde Horse and 9th Lancers, and pounded by Ludlow's 
field battery (No. 5), till it died away, and by one o'clock, with- 
out more resistance, the town of Goojerat, the whole of the 
Sikh position and their camps, were in our hands. 

During the latter part of the advance, our right flank had 
been constantly threatened by the enemy's horse, and Hearsey's 
irregulars had made several charges. The moment that the 
Sikhs made off they were pursued by the whole of the cavalry, 
who moved in two columns, Hearsey and Lockwood following 
the enemy towards Bhimbur on the Rampur Tawi, and the 
cavalry under Thackwell driving them towards the Jhelum. 
Late in the afternoon the two cavalry bodies joined forces and 
returned to camp. 

The Sikhs left fifty-three guns on the battlefield, and during 
the next two days eighteen more were recovered. The British 
loss consisted of ninety killed, including five British officers, 
and 700 wounded. The Sikh loss is not known, but the victory 
had been in every way satisfactory. The movements had been 
straightforward and simple, each division had been able to 
carry out its allotted part, and the artillery had been admirably 
served and had been superior to the usually heavy Sikh metal. 
The story of the housetop, to which Lord Gough was confined 



THE SIKH WARS 155 

by his staff hiding the ladder, has long been exploded. It was 
just one of those stories that appeal to the British. It reflected 
no opprobrium on the Commander in the eyes of the army, 
they loved to think of " Paddy" Gough as a fire-eater and a 
salamander, longing to hurl himself at the head of his line of 
bayonets at the enemy without waiting while the artillery beat 
down some of the opponent's power of resistance. The story 
has many versions in different guise. Some said that it was 
Henry Lawrence who had urged the Chief to use his artillery 
more, others that George Lawrence, when he came in from 
the Sikhs where he had been a prisoner, told him that the 
Sikhs also wondered why he did not use his guns. It is on 
record, too, that the Governor-General urged giving the artillery 
opportunity to produce an effect before commencing the advance 
to the attack. While we know on the recorded testimony of 
his staff, that Lord Gough was not kept from ordering an early 
attack by the device in the story, it is quite probable that the 
recommendations regarding the use of the artillery were made, 
but it does not thereby follow that they were necessary. The 
constitutional advisers of a commander are his staff, or rather 
the heads of its branches. In this case no doubt the branch 
of the staff concerned assisted in the preparation of the battle 
plans. No doubt, also, the artillery commanders were asked to 
give their views. It is absurd to suppose that these advisers 
did not as in duty bound recommend the due use of their 
artillery, and press for it should the Commander-in-Chief be 
inclined not to fully develop its powers. But these are all the 
inner workings of the machine, and a commander's action only 
becomes his defined policy as a result of the inner working of 
a machine organised for that end. To discuss it as it has been 
discussed in the past is to labour a trivial point. We do know 
that the enemy offered battle in the open, and that the British 
attacked in great order, using the full power of their augmented 
artillery, and that a crowning victory was won, which once 
and for all decided who was to rule in the plains of Upper 
India. 



156 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

There are several well-known coloured prints that deal with 
the battle showing it as it was before the final advance, with 
the commanding town of Goojerat and the snowy background, 
and the British army formed in line for battle. One, by Lieu- 
tenant Simpson, of the 29th Foot, shows the whole scene with 
what must be very great accuracy. It is at the stage when the 
artillery is in front of the main British line pounding the Sikh 
line, and the infantry re-formed in long lines in rear. It is 
viewed from the rear of the centre of Gilbert's Division, with 
Burr a Kalra to the right front. The party of Afghan horse, 
who succeeded in breaking through flanking cavalry, and who 
nearly got at the Commander-in-Chief himself, are shown in 
the foreground, and one is cutting at the defenceless lead- 
driver and coverer of an ammunition waggon belonging to a 
native troop of horse artillery. The N.C.O. is protecting his 
head with his right arm. Out in front are the heavy guns, and 
what is probably Dawes' light field battery (No. 17). The 
fortified walls and bastions of Goojerat are visible in rear of 
the Sikh line and away behind is the panorama of the snows. 
Another picture, from a drawing by Lieutenant Archer, of 
the 24th Foot, shows the same division (Gilbert's) advancing 
in quarter-column after the Sikhs had broken. They are close 
on the town of Goojerat, and the Sikh camp. Both these prints 
have sister pictures of the battle of Chillianwallah. 

The casualties of the battle in proportion to the numbers 
engaged and the importance of the victory were comparatively 
few, far less than in all previous battles with the Sikhs. They 
were, however, heavy in certain units, Penny's Brigade, both 
the European and native corps, losing heavily in front of Burra 
Kalra, and Harvey's Brigade in front of Chota Kalra. Thus 
the 2nd Bengal Europeans lost one officer and eight men killed, 
and five officers and 137 men wounded with three missing; 
while the 71st Native Infantry lost eleven men killed and one 
British officer, and 131 native officers and men wounded. The 
10th Foot and 8th Native Infantry had considerable casualties 
also. It was to a great extent an artillery battle, and the artillery 




o 

Q 



a 

rt 
J 



C« XT) 

3 oo 









be c« 
C.S 



[Face />«££ 156 



THE SIKH WARS 157 

losses were heavy, especially in Fordyce's and MacKenzie's 
troops. The artillery losses were two British officers and twenty- 
seven of all ranks killed, and one British officer and eighty-two 
of other ranks wounded. The casualties among the artillery 
horses and gun-bullocks were 127. 

So much for the battle itself. Immediately it was over, as 
has been stated, the cavalry took up the pursuit, and inflicted 
considerable loss. It is recorded that the men felt very acutely 
the cruel slashing to death of the wounded as they lay out in 
the scrub after Chillianwallah (pitiful stories of this are told in 
Archer's narrative, including the horrible cruelties to a wounded 
drummer boy), and the cavalry were out for vengeance. The 
next day General Gilbert started with a selected force in pur- 
suit of the remainder, vi& the Khoree Pass, gradually over- 
taking guns and formed bodies, till finally, on the 16th of 
March, the whole of the Sikh army gave up its guns and sur- 
rendered its arms at Rawal Pindi. A further force had pursued 
the Afghan allies of the Sikhs across the Indus and into the 
Khaiber, the last Afghan being back into his own country 
exactly one month after the battle of Goojerat. 

Then followed the annexation of the Punjab, and the gradual 
settling down of the country, with the hasty apportioning of 
temporary cantonments and the getting of the men under cover 
before the approaching fury of a Punjab summer. How the 
army of all ranks "groused" and grumbled at the hardships 
and changes of the next twelve months is another story, and 
we may leave the triumphant and vindicated Commander-in- 
Chief to settle these matters and prepare for the relinquishing 
of his command after having taken his army victorious through 
the two Sikh campaigns, and the short decisive Gwalior cam- 
paign. Hindustan from Cape Comorin to the Afghan border 
now acknowledged the British to be the paramount power, and 
there remained no external enemy to fear at all. So, as many 
had prophesied, with or without reason, the army had eventually 
to fight itself, when the native army of Bengal itself blew up, 
taking with it some of its neighbours. 



158 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

The story of the arrival of Sir Charles Napier, hastily des- 
patched when the misconception and heavy losses of Chillian- 
wallah had stirred men's minds, must be referred to. It was, 
of course, a great blow to Lord Gough to feel that he had been 
superseded, however much the Government might try and 
disguise the pill. It was, too, especially inconvenient since the 
season of the year prevented him leaving India for some months 
after he had handed over his command. The old hero had to 
remain on in Simla till the autumn, before making what proved 
to be a triumphal progress down the country. The difficult 
relations which such a position might easily have produced 
seem to have been admirably avoided by all concerned, and 
when the old soldier finally got home, his reception was all 
that he could have wished for. 

The troops taking part in the campaign received the 'Punjab' 
medal with clasps for Multan, Chillianwallah and Goojerat. 
The second of these was only granted on the very urgent demand 
of Lord Gough, who successfully combated the view that 
Chillianwallah was anything else but a victory, and the prepara- 
tion for the "Crowning mercy." The medal inscribed "To 
the Army of the Punjab " had on the reverse a representation of 
the Sikh Sirdars laying down their arms to Sir Walter Gilbert, 
behind whom is shown the army drawn up in line. It was worn 
with a dark blue ribbon with yellow edges. Was, because not even 
one of those who stood foursquare to the storm, on the plains 
of Chillianwallah and Goojerat, still answer to their names 
throughout the length and breadth of the Empire. The last a 
troop-sergeant Major of the 14th Light Dragoons, who had 
been with his corp at Chillianwallah and the pursuit of the 
Afghans to the Khaibar, died in March 1932, at the age of 104. 

Note : — The Afghans referred to are 5 ,000 horse under Sirdar Akram 
Khan sent by the Amir Dost Muhammad to assist his hereditary foes 
the Sikhs, no doubt with the view of regaining Peshawar for himself, 
had the British been defeated. 




[Frcm a painting by Colonel Lucombe 

The Bengal Horse Artillery Galloping through Afghan 
Hordes, 1842 



[Face page 158 



X 

THE INDIAN MUTINY 

i. Dawn at Delhi 
(May nth, 1857) 

11 North was the garden where Nicholson slept ; 
South was the sweep of a battered wall." 

— Lyall. 

The restoration of Delhi to her place as the capital of India, 
after several generations in the wilderness, has stirred public 
interest in the history that surrounds it. It has a history before 
which that of ancient Rome even appears trivial. Far back in 
the ages long, long before Alexander of Macedon crossed the 
Hydaspes, or Hannibal passed the Alps, or ever Romulus slew 
his brother, Delhi under other names was the capital of a 
powerful organised kingdom. City after city has risen on the 
ruins of its predecessor like the successive ruins of ancient 
Troys, but always to more purpose. For miles round the city 
the dust is the ashes of dead generations. For many a square 
mile the whole plain is covered with ancient cemeteries, and 
the very dust devils whirl the ashes of Afghan and Mogul in 
high spirals and eccentric circles. For miles round, the old 
imperial suburbs are dotted with ruined tombs and mansions. 
Tombs, forts, temples, minarets, and domes dot the horizon 
in every direction. A centre for the globe-trotter, maps, guide- 
books, picture post-cards, and the like abound. Since the 
making of new Delhi the traveller's interest is even more 
stimulated. The Indian public, the European portion of it, 
are now studying their own history of Delhi too, the grand- 
children and great-grandchildren of the folk who made it. 

159 



160 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

To them and the traveller a dim drop scene exists in the back- 
ground on which are mingled Raja Prithwi, the Slave Kings, 
the Ghilzai and Pathan dynasties, and then the great Mogul 
Emperors, all about the same relationship to each other, as 
time goes, as that given by the schoolboy to Julius Caesar and 
William the Norman. The story has just been told of the first 
battle of Delhi, so far as the English are concerned, when 
General Lake beat the French trained battalions of the Mahratta 
in 1803, hard by Indarpat, within sight of the minarets of the 
capital. It has been told that while there is a clasp for " Delhi " 
on the Mutiny medal, there are clasps for "Battle of 
Delhi," and "Defence of Delhi," on the famous old "Army 
of India" medal, the latter referring to a very wonderful 
defence of the immense enceinte of the city of Colonels Ochterlony 
and Burn, with a few sepoy battalions against the whole host 
of Holkar, when General Lake had gone south to find this same 
Holkar who had doubled on him. 

But it is the connection of Delhi with the great tragedy of 
the Mutiny that is ever fresh in the minds of visitors. Every 
visitor must drive through the battered Kashmir Gate, every 
one goes to the Ridge to see the monuments. During the 
Durbar the Ridge was thronged, and on the day of the King's 
entry the whole of the artillery present were formed up on 
its stony faces to thunder 101 salvoes "lest they forget." Oh 
yes ! the great drama of that wonderful siege and its happenings 
is fairly well known, and of late we have been treated to extremely 
interesting reflogging of the old waters as to whether or no 
General Sir Archdale Wilson was or was not a man of character, 
or merely a tired and gallant old soldier who tried to do his 
duty without being very well equipped by nature to do so. If 
only the latter, why, then let us accord the more credit, for 
most soldiers understand, even if they don't talk about it, 
that not every one who dons a red coat thereby becomes a 
leader of men. Therefore he who can compel the Kings of 
Orion, and achieve any measure of success, when not naturally 
so gifted, is worthy of great admiration and sympathy. Once 



THE INDIAN MUTINY l6l 

again "the toad beneath the harrow knows exactly where each 
tooth-point goes," and soldiers know what goes on under the 
mask of a sun-dried face and a grizzled moustache. Such 
controversy however is always good, if well conducted. " Soldier 
know thyself" is an essential motto, and to discuss others in all 
courtesy and sympathy is to learn. 

However, all that is merely by the way, and brings us to 
the real point of this chapter, and that is that, while men read 
eagerly and study the ancient history and the story of the grim 
limpet English on their ridge, they almost forget the real 
romance of the story. They do not follow in all its intense 
tragedy the opening hours of that fateful Monday, May nth, 
1857, and the extraordinary dramatic opening of the scene. 
Extraordinary because so simple, so gradual, and then so intent. 
Everyone, of course, knows of the great event that will always 
live in history, the blowing up of a portion of the magazine by 
the devoted personnel of the Ordnance Department. Something 
of the tragedy of the mainguard by the Kashmir Gate is also 
known, but little of the commencement. The scene is worth 
reconstructing. 

A few years ago there was a feeling prevailing that it would 
be well to let the past bury the past, to let all men and all races 
think only of the great effort both Government and public 
were making for the progress and prosperity of the peoples of 
India. But there is now a very persistent party of Indians 
who will not let bygones be bygones, who openly talk of the 
Mutiny as a war of freedom, and are endeavouring to reproduce 
it. Therefore it is well that our people should never forget 
the signs and portents and happenings, and draw their lessons 
therefrom. Those who care for the strange romance of it all 
will always ponder over the lesser happenings, and try to 
recreate the atmosphere, and since the other side is revelling 
in its memories with true Indian illogic, the romanticists may 
enjoy their sensations guiltlessly. 

May, 1857, was a cool month as Indian Mays go. The whole 
of that summer, it is recorded, was a phenomenally cool one. 



162 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

Folk, European folk, found tents in northern India bearable 
in June, when as a rule they are fiery furnaces. Many a small 
item was cast in our favour in that eventful year, from the 
changing of the hour of church parade at Meerut to the early 
coming of the rains. 

But the coolness of a cool Indian May is only a matter of 
comparison. At the best of times the weather would be hot, 
and the Europeans had settled down to their hot-weather 
hours and programme of daily business. A few of the women 
and children had gone to the hills. In these days it would 
have been ninety per cent. The country was queer, there was 
no doubt about that, but to the ordinary mind not more so 
than would furnish something out of the normal to discuss at 
mess and at the station club. Officers had been passing through 
on their way to their regiments on completing their musketry 
courses at the rifle depots of Sialkot and Umballa. The gossip 
from the schools, which alone had the new rifle, regarding 
the incidents of the greased cartridges, had come into the 
station first-hand. Everybody however was sure that their 
"Jacks" would take these cartridges all right, and that the 
trouble was only in certain "slack" regiments. The Mangal 
Pandy incident was already ancient history, he and his native 
officer had been hanged, and so forth. The talk was far more 
of who could get to Kashmir, and whether the quail were in, 
in large numbers. There had of course been this silly trouble 
with the 3rd Cavalry at Meerut, but the court-martial was 
just over. The native officers of the Delhi garrison who had 
gone to serve on it had returned the day before. 

So on the Monday morning, early, according to the routine 
of the hot season, everyone had gone to his work. Up in the 
cantonments behind the Ridge the garrison had paraded to 
hear the sentence on Jemadar Isaree Pandy 1 read out according 
to custom. The troops had been dismissed, but the ordinary 
barrack routine was in progress. Quite how the first com- 

1 Executed for not preventing Mangal Pandy shooting the adjutant of the 
34th at Barrackpore. 



THE INDIAN MUTINY 163 

munication arrived to the civil magistrates that something was 
wrong is not known. It is almost certain that Mr. Fraser, 
the commissioner, had news of some sort early, and had sent 
a message up to the brigadier. It is said that a party of horsemen, 
presumably in file, were seen galloping along the road from 
Meerut towards the bridge of boats over the Jumna. Whatever 
the news was, it induced Mr. Simon Fraser, the commissioner, 
and Mr. Hutchinson, the collector, to proceed at once to the 
Calcutta Gate and have it closed. That is the gate close under 
the Selimgarh where the main railway line from Ghaziabad 
now enters the city. This was probably between 7 and 8 a.m., 
when the sun was full high and the heat of the day already 
threatening. 

Now, the story will be remembered of how the mutineers 
of the 3rd Light Cavalry galloped to the palace, 1 calling on 
the old King to admit them and raise his standard. The exact 
story of what occurred is of very great interest. It will be 
remembered that it was Captain Douglas, of the King's Guard, 
who first interviewed the mutineers and ordered them away 
and to present their petition in due form. Captain Douglas 
belonged to the 31st Bengal Native Infantry, and was comman- 
dant of the Palace Guards, a numerous force, dressed in some 
imitation of the Bengal Line. We know very little about them, 
though from the fact that they were commanded by a British 
officer (who was also on political duty connected with the King) 
we may be sure that this corps resembled in its drill and routine 
one of our own native regiments. It was certain to have been 
recruited from Oude for the most part. What manner of man 
the commandant was, history does not say, though no doubt 
there are relatives of his living who could tell us. We may 
imagine him like so many of the younger political officers 
found by the army, especially energetic and competent, with 
some considerable sympathy with the fallen fortunes of the 
Mogul family. His work in connection with all the retainers 
and royal relatives, with their thousand claims, intrigues, and 

1 The Fortress-palace also known as the Delhi Fort. 



164 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

quarrels, must have been considerable. What the state of 
affairs within the palace in ordinary times was, has been very 
clearly drawn by Mrs. Steel in her wonderful book On the Face 
of the Waters. 

Douglas lived in the quarters over the Lahore or main gate 
of the palace, the one through which the royal procession 
passed in 191 1. Those who ordinarily read the account of 
this morning at Delhi imagine him as appearing at his window 
or balcony above the gate, and thence ordering some excited 
troopers down below to go away and not disturb the King at 
this early hour. Mr. Fanshawe, recently Commissioner of Delhi, 
in his Delhi Past and Present, has gone into this matter of detail, 
evidently struck with the peculiar interest of it, not thinking 
that His Majesty's action at the Durbar would make it even 
more interesting. Possibly Captain Douglas at an early hour 
had conversation at the Lahore Gate with one of the mutineer 
horsemen, little knowing, of course, his real status, but this 
was not the occasion on which the mutineers of the 3rd Light 
Cavalry called on the King to protect and lead them. Later, 
exactly when it is impossible to say, the first arrivals from 
Meerut in any number, cavalry troopers again, crossed the 
Jumna either by the ford or the bridge of boats, and, finding 
the Calcutta Gate already closed against them, turned into the 
kadir, the wide, scrub-covered flats which border the actual 
river. On this side the walls of the palace overhang the river- 
bed, and on the edge of these walls, on the raised interior, 
stood and still stand the Royal apartments. The Diwan-i- 
Khas, 1 the Royal Bath, and the Moti Musjid 2 look out over the 
river to catch such breeze as may be moving. The space in the 
bed below is known as the " Zer Jharoka" literally, ''beneath 
the windows," a recognised palace expression applied generally 
to a space beneath the Royal or Imperial apartments from 
which the Kings could show themselves to the public at certain 
fixed times. 

It was to this "Zer Jharoka" to be attained without forcing 

1 Private hall. 2 Pearl mosque. 



THE INDIAN MUTINY 165 

•any guard or gate, that the troopers betook themselves, entirely 
in accordance with Oriental custom, to call on the King to 
protect them and place himself at their head and win back 
an Indian crown. It is this incident that people generally 
imagine to have happened below the Lahore Gate, the main 
gate of the fortress-palace (far away from the river), above 
which were Captain Douglas's quarters. The mutineers knew 
that the King lived immediately above the place from which 
they clamoured, and could show himself to them from the 
Musamman Burj, a small tower projecting slightly from the 
wall into the river-bed. From this tower, or close to it, a small 
staircase and wicket led down to the river-bed itself. Below 
this Musamman Burj, then, the troopers of the 3rd Light 
Cavalry stood fresh from the murder of their officers and their 
families at Meerut — fierce, frightened, exalted, despairing, in 
their alternating moods. 

It was from this same Musamman Burj that His Majesty 
King George and his consort Queen Mary looked down, in 
their golden crowns, on the assembled thousands of the multi- 
tude the day that they held their garden court in the palace 
grounds of the Mogul Emperors in the year of Our Lord 
1911. 

The old King, aroused by the clamour from below, wanted 
some one else to lean on. He must well have known what was 
brewing, but had no idea whether these were successful or 
fugitive rebels. He at once sent for Captain Douglas, who 
hurried thither along the covered way from the main gate 
with its long row of bazaar stalls. One may pause to wonder 
if the Royal gardener gave him the usual buttonhole offering 
as he crossed the lawns. Joining the aged King, it is understood 
that he wished to go down the wicket steps and talk to the men 
below. This the King would not permit. So he addressed 
them from the top of the wall by the Musamman Burj, bidding 
them not disturb His Majesty, but if they had a petition to 
present to come later to the Kotwali. The troopers then, after 
uttering some insolence or abuse, one actually unslinging his 



166 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

carbine and firing at Douglas, galloped off to the Raj Ghat 
Gate of the city and thence into the open space between the 
palace and the city. Some commenced attacking any Europeans 
to be found in the adjoining civil station of Daryagunj ("the 
suburb on the river"). Others galloped along past the Lahore 
Gate of the palace, to the Culcutta Gate of the city. 

We may here profitably turn aside from the main story to 
compare the two scenes below the Musamman Burj. First, 
that scene just depicted: the Jumna kadir lying below the 
terrepleine of the palace, the opposite banks and distance shim- 
mering in the haze, and heavy with the dust raised by the 
troopers' horses. The bridge of boats, half a mile or so away, 
with its stream of laden bullocks and thronging peasantry attend- 
ing the markets of the city. To the left, jutting out from 
the palace wall, the frowning old bastioned fort known 
as the Selimgarh. To the right, beyond the end of the wall, 
the minarets of the Golden Mosque, and the English bungalows 
hugging the crest of the river-bed — bungalows in which the 
wives and families of the residents were about sitting down to 
breakfast, unconscious of any danger. Down on the short turf 
below the walls a knot of, perhaps, fifty troopers of the Light 
Cavalry, clad for the most part in their famous French-grey 
regimentals, with perhaps a puggaree on their head in lieu of 
the regulation dragoon shako. — This blue-grey is the colour 
worn till 19 14 by the only three regiments of the old Light 
Cavalry left in the Indian Army — the 26th, 27th, and 28th, 
until recently the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Madras Light Cavalry. It 
was the uniform of a force that considered itself corps d' elite 
and which, during the Mutiny, was so well known to our troops, 
as being constantly opposed to them. — On the wall above, 
the captain of the guard, alone, or almost alone, save, perhaps 
for an orderly of his guard. Behind the marble grille in the 
marble buildings, on the wall, the trembling old relic of a once 
all-powerful dynasty: the captain, firm and resolute, ordering 
the men away to present their petition in due form, the 
troopers excited, defiant, gesticulating! He died within the 



THE INDIAN MUTINY 167 

hour, and few of the actors survived the siege, so the details 
are scanty, but he who roams the deserted palace may 
read. 

Then the second scene: the same rose-red fortress-palace, 
the same Jumna kadir, the same Musamman Burj and marble 
buildings, the same wonderful India around. Not, however, 
the one solitary Englishman in white braided jacket and his 
solitary sword. On the tower the British Emperor of India 
and his Empress in their crowns and robes. Around them the 
highest princes and nobles of India, and all the officers of the 
army of the North, all the governors, the judges, and the magis- 
trates. Below, thousands on tens of thousands of his Indian 
subjects, marching up towards him in two great streams side 
by side, divided by a fence, Hindus on one side, Muhammadans 
on the other, and then wheeling past him outwards with every 
sign of enthusiasm. The Indian understands the meaning of 
the word Badshah (an emperor), and the outward and visible 
sign of power and protection . . . the great ruler under 
whom folk live their lives in security, each as he will. For 
many hundred years India had not seen peace, for in the last 
generations of the Empire all was unrest, and the last of the 
Emperors, only Emperors in name — the last of them not even 
that. So the real Badshah himself, with all the signs of power 
around him, was to them a sign that the sun should shine and 
the rain rain in due season. And so long as peace be preserved, 
what more could a simple people ask for? 

So there you have the contrast. The great King of a great 
people — who, though partly fetish and partly fools to many 
of their dark-skinned fellow-subjects, try to rule in the name 
of truth and justice and righteousness — with the tens of thou- 
sands of his people below him. On the other, the fierce flushed 
faces of the excited soldiery, fresh from murder and broken 
faith, stirred for the moment with religious enthusiasm and the 
glamour of an act of war, calling on the aged descendant of an 
ancient dynasty, parleying with a solitary English officer, who 
claimed to represent the ancient potentate ! A curious contrast 



l68 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

beneath the same sky, and above the same marble and red 
granite plinths! 

And so mutiny, raging and uncurbed, had come to Delhi, 
ever the centre of Empire, as the loadstone points to the north- 
ward. 

By this time a message had come to Douglas from Mr. 
Fraser to join him at the Calcutta Gate of the city. So leaving 
the Royal presence and the aged King to his courtiers and 
anxieties, the captain of the guard returned to the Lahore 
Gate, across the quiet lawns outside the Royal quarters, with 
the drowsy splash of the fountains and the murmur of doves 
alone disturbing the atmosphere. Possibly he returned to his 
cool quarters high above the old main gateway of the palace- 
fort, to further arm himself, and perhaps to tell his guests 
for the week-end that there was some mysterious disorder 
afoot. The guests were Mr. Jennings, the chaplain of Delhi, 
with his daughter and her friend Miss Clifford. Possibly he 
may not have considered anything serious was amiss, and, 
having his sword on him, did not go up to his quarters for a 
fire-arm, but passed out under the cool, dark, double gateway. 
We can picture the gate-guard turning out to him, possibly 
in all faith, probably with their tongues in their cheeks, and 
can almost see the line of red coats and slovenly placed cross- 
belts, copying the ceremony of the British guard. Out on to 
the glacis then passed the captain, and hurried to the Calcutta 
Gate. The troopers of the cavalry, riding up to the palace 
gate a few minutes later, would have learnt from the guard 
that their commander had passed out. At the city gate, which 
they had closed, Douglas found Fraser, the commissioner of 
Delhi, and Hutchinson, the collector. The usual military guard 
was at the gate, found that day, as also the guards at the Kash- 
mir Gate, which was the main guard, and at the Magazine, 
by the 38th Native Infantry from the cantonments. Sir The- 
ophilus Metcalfe, the joint magistrate, had been at the gate 
also, but had gone off to the kotwali y where the central police- 
station was. The troopers followed Douglas round the glacis 



THE INDIAN MUTINY 169 

of the fort to the Calcutta Gate, and at once attacked the little 
group of sahibs, the 38th guard remaining passive or frater- 
nising. Mr. Hutchinson was cut down, the commissioner's 
own escort of Jhajjar sowars remained inactive, and Mr. Fraser 
seized a carbine from one of them and shot dead a trooper 
of the 3rd Light Cavalry. Breaking through them in his trap, 
lashing his horse to a gallop, he succeeded in getting his wounded 
companion to the Lahore Gate, where Douglas, who had 
jumped down into the fort ditch, joined them with a badly 
injured ankle. Some servants and chaprassis eventually carried 
the wounded men up into the quarters, where the chaplain 
and the two English girls were sitting anxiously, and whence 
the former had been watching with his telescope the move- 
ment on the Meerut road. Outside and in the palace the whirl- 
wind was rising, the quiet morning cries of the muezzin from 
the mosques was changing. From "Prayer is better than sleep," 
the call had risen to a fiercer key. " Glory for all and heaven 
for those who bleed," the call of militant Islam. "Din! Din! 
Victory of Muhammad!" A Moslem city, like an Irish one, 
is agog for religious riot. Out in the suburb of Daryagunj 
mutineers and bazaar rifT-raff were indulging in the novel 
sport of baiting and murdering Europeans and Christians. 
Inside the palace a crowd had gathered in the gateway at the 
entrance to Douglas's quarters. Mr. Fraser had harangued 
them, and it is recorded that Douglas had sent an urgent 
message to the King to send a gun down to the Lahore Gate, 
and also to send litters to take the two English ladies to the 
protection of the Royal ladies' quarters. Whatever was done 
was too late. As Fraser turned to go up the stairs, some one 
of the crowd, said to be an Abyssinian — there were adventurers 
from all lands in the palace following — by others a lapidary, 
struck him down. It was enough; the crowd, then eager for 
blood, rushed up the staircases to the commandant's quarters: 
the Englishmen's servants, as was so often the case, strove to 
save their masters, and closed the doors against the mob. 
Unfortunately, there was another entrance and stairway, or 



170 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

it is just possible something might have intervened at any rate 
to save the ladies. What further happened is all conjecture 
and the reports of eye-witnesses. The whole of the small 
party were ruthlessly massacred then and there, and all British 
authority within the palace died. 

Outside, the story comes within the facts of common and 
more popular knowledge, the portion of our Delhi history 
that we read. There were the massacres in Daryagunj, the 
defence of the roof of the bank by the Beresfords, the killings in 
the bungalows — bungalows which are inhabited to this day, 
and which are redolent of old-world India and its romance. 
The murders over the Lahore Gateway must have made the 
court party furiously to think. Something, chance or else the 
plotting of some supreme brain, had involved those who toyed 
and trifled with rebellion beyond all extrication. Nothing 
remained now but for the Royal, nay the Imperial family, to 
top the wave with such acumen and courage as they might. 
The aged King had little to look for in this world. The imprison- 
ment and death in Burma, had he seen it, could have little 
fears for him — but the princes ? Did they dream of that scene 
at the kotwali, where Hodson was to fling their corpses to lie 
in merited dishonour? Did Zeenat Mahal, the youngest wife, 
and Jiwan Bakht, her spoiled son, feel the ignominy of failure 
ahead? We may be certain that their feelings were more than 
mixed when the litters, sent in answer to Douglas's summons, 
came back with the report, "Too late!" But raw, red blood 
and cruel murder were no new sight to the rose-red granite 
walls of the fortress-palace, and the scenes of slaughter on 
that day, within its walls, and again when a few days 
later half a hundred nondescript Christian pitifuls were 
despatched, were of little account on the accumulated negatives 
of Time. 

So came the mutiny pell-mell to the Imperial Palace in the 
rising heat of a May morning seventy-five years ago. So died the 
captain of the guard in his own gatehouse with his guests 
and his colleagues, while over in the cantonments and at the 




"H'S 

• 5 3 
" 00 

u 



~2 



w 

H 
< 








s 3 



.3 <u 



-3 



&'-- j r:-£ | 



[Face page 170 



THE INDIAN MUTINY 171 

mainguard by the Kashmir Gate the drama grew in intensity. 
The rest of the story is an evergreen memory, but folk are 
apt to forget the long dreary spinning of Time on its rosary 
through the heat and the dust of that day. By ten of the morning, 
the English dead lay neglected in the Lahore Gateway, but 
it was not till 4 p.m. that Willoughby blew up the magazine 
as a protest and as a promise. It was not till nightfall that the 
last of the English left the cantonments to the sullen remnants 
of the mutinous regiments. From 10 a.m. till the destruction 
of the magazine at 4 p.m. our people had been collecting in 
the mainguard or the flagstaff tower, that still stands on the 
ridge, waiting with their dead, ever waiting, for the white 
troops to come from Meerut. 

Let the visitors whose hired carriages rumble through the 
Lahore Gateway think of the scene enacted there that far- 
away morning, and then, as they pass on to the marble apart- 
ments over the Zer Jharoka over the Jumna shore, think again 
of the mutinous grey-clad troopers below the very tower that 
the guide will tell them the King of the English sat on to see 
his million peoples in the year of grace 191 1. In India, history 
is made so fast. The great Durbar is already ancient history; 
Lord Kitchener and Lord Curzon are almost solar myths. 
Let them forget these if they like, but let them ever remember 
the captain of the guard and his companions, because in that 
great task of raising India from where she had fallen, we may 
again have to face a storm, possibly of greater, possibly of less, 
dimensions than that of '57. Since the multitudes pressed 
their foreheads on the steps of King George's dais, King George's 
delegate has been bombed within sight of that old Lahore 
Gate. All the old evil is still at work, to embitter and to ruin 
the slow work of building up a flourishing people from the 
war-racked ruins of ancient races. Once again may we have 
to stand four-square to the devil's wind, amid tumult and 
calumny. It is the avowed intention of the Indian fanatics 
that '57 shall not be buried in oblivion, as we would have 
buried it. So we may well use the memory to our own warning. 



172 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

Clumsy we are to handle a strange people, but straight and 
honest and just according to our lights. 

And over the red granite walls of that ancient evil palace 
and fort rise the great masts of the "Wireless" that show to 
the wise that, after all, the English are still there. As a sign 
that still, as ran the call of the old town crier, 

" Mankind belongs to God, 
and the land to the Government, 
and power to the powerful sahibs.'" 



11. The Master- Gunner 

This story of an incident in the Indian Mutiny, a side-light 
that is not in the histories, was told me by an old lady who 
lived in a large bungalow in a cantonment long abandoned 
by the army. The old master-gunner who was put to such 
a trial was her father. 



In the pitiless heat of the June following the month in which 
the storm had burst on the unsuspecting English, a small 
British garrison was defending a huge rambling fort, that 
contained half the equipments of an army, and kept open 
the communications by the Ganges, with Calcutta and the 
provinces of the North. On its successful defence hung the 
fate of a dozen and more similarly defended spots up country. 
The garrison consisted of a weak company of one of the Euro- 
pean regiments of the Honourable East India Company, of 
fifty men of a Sikh Irregular Corps yet loyal to their recent 
conquerors, a dozen invalid artillerymen of a veteran battalion, 
and a few local officials, European and Eurasians. Added to 
these were the surviving English officers from a brigade that 
had mutinied in the adjacant cantonment. Perhaps a hundred 
and fifty women and children completed the anxieties of the 
aged Brigadier, who had assumed command instead of having 
been in the enjoyment of his pension for ten years past. In 



THE INDIAN MUTINY 173 

John Company's days you kept in harness till you died, and 
the oldest private became the youngest corporal, and so on 
up the hierarchy, till a general of division would number eighty 
summers. So it was no small wonder that the military card- 
house, that had succeeded the fighting armies of Lake and 
Wellesley and Monro, should topple when the wind rose, and 
had been the laughing-stock of good soldiers for twenty years 
before the mutiny. 

Thus if the old Brigadier had been unequal to the situation 
it was small blame to him, who had spent all his life in the 
services of our grim stepmother — more of his life than she 
or any other employer had right to. Fortunately there were 
ready and loyal hands and heads to help him through, in the 
shape of an officer of artillery in charge of the fort, and a 
captain of irregular cavalry, so that the defence was well organised 
and the non-combatants and refugees suitably housed and 
controlled. 

Outside, three battalions of mutinous infantry, some cavalry, 
and all the scum of the countryside, after pillaging the canton- 
ment and civil station, and burning all Goverment buildings, 
had sat down to besiege the place of refuge. And all the while 
the column of mercury in the magazine verandah crept up 
and up, till the thermometer stood at one hundred and ten 
degrees, and the Europeans on the wall peered out through 
their sun-scorched eyes, and the women gasped in the case- 
ments below the bastions, and all thanked Heaven that the 
guns had been within the fort, and that there had been no 
artillery to mutiny with the rest of the brigade. 

On the fifth morning after the mutiny, as the Brigadier 
and his artillery officer staggered round the fort, revived by the 
slight drop in temperature that must come after even 
the hottest night, they saw a puff of smoke spray out 
from the tank by the native infantry quarter guard, followed by 
the unmistakable hum of a round-shot, which struck the parapet 
near by the main entrance. A few minutes later, a second 
crashed through the upper portion of the iron-bound door 



174 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

of the main gateway, to be followed by the whistling of a shell 
from a nine-inch mortar, which landed fairly in the centre 
yard. 

The gunner looked at the Brigadier, and the Brigadier swore 
aloud. Despite his seventy years and growing infirmities, the 
brave old man had succeeded in pulling himself together, and 
was now as determined as a man in his prime, as became an 
officer who had been through the Sikh and Afghan wars and 
had been one of the "Illustrious Garrison," 1 who had, more- 
over, carried a pair of colours at the capture of Bhurtpur. But 
the walls of the old fort sadly needed repair, and while broken 
bottles kept thieves from the magazine, a very few days' pound- 
ing would bring them down like paper. However, it was a 
case for "dogged does it," and all the troops not on guard 
and all the followers and refugees were put to make sacks 
and fill them with earth, till sandbags were piled high against 
the gates, and spare heaps were collected at intervals. 

Where the guns had come from was a puzzle, and still more 
so whence had come the skilled gunner who was pointing 
them so accurately. Twice had the flagstaff been shot down 
from atop the main guard, and four times running had the 
main gate itself been struck. Twice also had shell dropped 
on to the magazine roof, only to be rolled off by a faithful 
Lascar. Presently news filtered in that the guns had been 
sent down the Jumna (by boat) by Rajah Kunwar Singh, who 
had joined the mutineers and declared for the Mogul puppet 
at Delhi. Two good twelves had he sent, a nine-inch mortar, 
and four three-pounders, but as he had no artillerymen, that 
did not account for the good shooting. Fortunately, though 
the besiegers surrounded the fort and kept up a musketry fire, 
they had no stomach for a direct assault, content to receive 
every rush of rumbling masonry that followed a successful 
shot with loud cheers. And all the while the invalid artillery- 
men, assisted by the Sikhs, plied the fort six-pounders, and 
men dropped senseless in the morning sun, and women and 

1 i.e. of Jalalabad. 



THE INDIAN MUTINY 175 

. children died in the casements, and all looked wearily for help 
from below. In the garrison a wild tale had gone about that 
there were renegade white gunners helping the enemy, and 
presently a native came in to say that Pat Delahaney himself 
was working the rebel guns. Now Pat Delahaney was an ex- 
sergeant of Bengal Horse Artillery, a member of the Invalid 
Battalion, of which a detachment was stationed at the fort, 
representing the settlement of old military pensioners, who 
had elected to remain in India on the veteran establishment. 
Of the dozen old artillerymen, all were within the fort except 
Delahaney, who had been away in the district visiting a married 
daughter at the time of the rising. He had been the best known 
shot with a six-pounder in all the horse artillery for the last 
twenty years, and when it was reported that he had turned 
renegade, the success of the rebel guns was explained. 

Furious was the little garrison inside at the idea of his 
treachery, loud were the threats of vengeance, and accurately 
laid were the fort guns that replied to the fire from the tank. 

Sergeant James M'Gillivray, however, who commanded the 
detachment of invalid gunners, would have none of it, for 
Delahaney was his bosom friend. "A divil of an O'Brien 
bhoy he is, soor, thrue for you; and why wouldn't he be, for 
his father was hung on College Green," cried he to the Brigadier; 
"but divil a rebel would he be, and join thim black blagyards, 
glory be to God, sorr." 

But for all that M'Gillivray could say, the story was believed, 
and when that afternoon six shots running struck the gate- 
way, and the whole arch fell down, even that staunch champion 
was staggered. 

"'Tis moighty foine shooting. Oi've known Delahaney 
stroike the bull eight toimes out of noine at a thousand yards. 
Mother av God, fwhat will oi du if me old chum's there?" 

But Delahaney or nigger, the fact remained, and all the 
garrison could do was to see their refuge battered about their 
ears, and reply as best they could, repairing their damage 
night by night, and burying their dead, while the dust whirled 



176 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

and eddied in the corners by the bastions and the white wheel 
guide-posts, and the pale children, despite the heat, played 
on the chains under the siris trees, and dodged Mr. Delahaney's 
round-shot, as now all openly called them. 

It was on the morning of the ninth day, after a night more 
fiercely oppresive than its fore-runners, when a shot had come 
into a casement and killed a woman and two children, and 
the garrison was down to a turn, that a flourish of bugles was 
heard in the trees south of the fort, followed by the roar of 
cannon and rattle of musketry. The garrison hurried to the 
ramparts in time to see the red coatees and white cross-belts 
of the mutineers scuttling about in the jungle near, and doubling 
away across the maidan, then to break and return pursued — 
yes, actually pursued — by European cavalry, closely followed 
by, European infantry, who fired as they ran, to the music of 
quavering cheers from the old fort walls. It was a poor stand 
for three of the best battalions of the Bengal line to make 
against a third of their number, but a guilty conscience is 
a poor ally, and the English were more than angry. They are 
usually so steady and sleepy that folk had forgotten then, 
as they sometimes forget now, how very angry the English 
can get, if it really is worth while being so. 

In half an hour's time the red coatees and white cross-belts 
had all disappeared, except for a couple of hundred or so who 
had the misfortune to be taken prisoners, and General Neil 
himself and his bluecap Lambs were forming up half mad with 
thirst at the battered main gate, which eager hands were busy 
clearing. The first man of action had arisen, and already light 
was beginning to show through the clouds to all India, while 
those in the fort had almost forgotten there was an outer 
world. 

As Neil and the Brigadier shook hands, amid the cheers of 
the defenders and the relievers, a sergeant hurried up to the 
General. " Beg pardon, sir, we've caught a European a-working 
the niggers' guns, sir." 

"Did you kill him?" asked the General, laconically. 



THE INDIAN MUTINY 177 

"No, sir," said the sergeant. "The lootenant said we was 
to keep him." 

"Damn the lieutenant," was all the General said, for his 
mind was full of other matters. "Put him in the fort guard." 

And so Patrick Delahaney, half dazed with sun and drink, 
was shoved into the fort guard amid the execrations of the 
defenders. He had worked the two rebel twelves for four days, 
and Sergeant James M'Gillivray was allowed to go and see 
him. The story of shame he heard was this, and it was fully 
expanded by a half-caste medical subordinate whom the rebels 
had spared and forced to serve them. 

Delahaney, driving back in a buggy from visiting his daughter, 
had been seized by the mutineers and dragged before Ressaldar 
Major Ramzan Khan of the Irregular Horse, who by virtue of 
seniority after the order of the Company, as well as his fanatical 
partisanship for the new rule, commanded the rebel brigade. 
That very day had Kunwar Singh's guns arrived by boat, 
and Delahaney's fame as a gunner was well known. It was 
therefore proposed to him that he, for untold gold, should 
join the rebels and train their gunners under commission from 
the Padishah at Delhi. Delahaney's refusal had been direct, 
and highly coloured with picturesque Hibernian blasphemy, 
daring them to kill him if they wished, and be d d to them. 

But, willy-nilly, Delahaney's services the mutineers were 
determined to have, so that he was then and there tied up to 
the wheel of one of Kunwar Singh's long twelves, and flogged 
by the drummers of the grenadier company till even his spirit 
gave way and he became insensible. The next morning he 
was given food and a large tot of rum, and again tied up to 
the gun wheel. "Will you now fire the guns?" he was asked, 
and on refusing the flogging recommenced. The heart of the 
man was broken, though he had often enough taken a flogging 
in his youth like any decent Irish soldier . . . but in his 
old age and from mutineers! . . . and the old soldier wept 
in his agony, as the old brigadier had nearly wept at his time 
of trial. "Take me down," he had cried, "and I'll fire your 



178 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

blasted guns ! " So he was untied from the improvised triangles 
and given more stimulant and led to the tank where two twelve- 
pounder guns had been got into position. Staggering to the 
limber, he got out a round and cartridge and arranged the 
friction-tube and lanyard. The gun loaded and laid, the first 
round fired at his friends by first-class gunner Sergeant Patrick 
Delahaney sped on its way against his countrymen, and the 
layer groaned aloud. But he had laid the round well off the 
gate, and the first shot took no effect. Ranzan Khan, the rebel 
leader, standing near to watch the effect of his new master- 
gunner, fiercely ordered the sergeant to be tied up to the gun 
wheel again without a word of explanation. "Flog him another 
fifty, till he can remember to shoot straight, but see that you 
do not kill him!" and then and there on his mangled back 
fifty more lashes were laid on. "Now take him back to the 
battery; and just you remember, Master Feringhee, that every 
bad shot you make will mean fifty more, and I shall take good 
care not to kill you." 

And so it had come about that Delahaney had shot straight 
and true, not for his life, for which he cared little, but to save 
his mangled back from more lashes and from salt and spirit 
and chillies, and every agony that the tender ruth of the mutineer 
could devise to break a strong man's heart without killing him. 

Once he had given up the struggle he had worked his guns 
steadily and accurately as one in a dream, and had been freely 
plied with stimulants. On the memorable morning that Neil's 
relieving column had sunk on the besiegers, Delahaney, dazed 
and half drunk, had fallen down by one of the guns after the 
native gunners had fled only to fall to the bayonet, and in this 
state had been found by a party of Neil's Lambs, and had 
been dragged and cuffed into the presence of the General, and 
thence to the fort mainguard. 

All that afternoon summary courts were doing justice on 
the captured mutineers, such justice as only a really angry 
people can carry out on those who have hopelessly abused the 
trust put in them. Seven guns drawn up on the parade-ground 



THE INDIAN MUTINY 179 

outside the fort served as the anteroom to the courts of justice 
held in the shade of the ruined main gate. By batches at the 
cannon's mouth the mutineers, after the customary law of 
the East, expiated their offence, in silence and in resignation. The 
next day a general court-martial would try renegade and ex- 
Sergeant Patrick Delahaney for desertion to the enemy. 

But in the meantime M'Gillivray had spread the story of 
the rebel master-gunner far and wide, and the tide of fury 
and indignation that had set so strong against him had now 
turned to sorrow and deep perplexity. The officers ordered to 
try him were in sore doubt. The times were stirring, and 
death roamed the land unmolested, so that men's hearts did not 
stick at trifles. In this merciless mutiny there was no room 
for renegades, and besides, there was a terrible story from 
the north, none the better for having grown in every station 
and every canteen through which it had filtered. General 
Neil was a hard, strong man, furious at the supineness and 
incompetence he had met with in his avenging march, implacable 
against the men who had added merciless massacre to military 
mutiny, and little likely to allow extenuating circumstances to 
affect his treatment of the guilty. And there seemed little 
doubt but that Delahaney had openly and effectively taken 
part with the mutineers. So it was not surprising that officers 
who unconcernedly condemned the rebel prisoners to be blown 
from the guns were dismayed at the prospect of conducting 
a formal court-martial on the unfortunate artillery pensioner. 

It was therefore of the nature of a reprieve when the trial 
was postponed a day to allow of an expedition against a body 
of armed peasants who had been raiding on the Trunk Road, 
the Company's turnpike to Calcutta, up which troops and 
munitions must come. During the day's respite Delahaney 
had come to his senses, and had realised the horror of his 
position once more. He had asked for the Brigadier, who had 
consented to see him, and his daughter had been brought in 
from an out-station to find her father in his terrible position. 
So sympathy and hesitation grew among those left in the fort, 



180 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

the more so that it was believed that the General took the 
sternest view of the case, and had expressed indignation that 
the man had ever been taken prisoner. 

Late that evening the troops of the flying column staggered 
into cantonments after twenty miles of marching and a tiring 
fight, bringing a gun, some prisoners, a rescued European 
subordinate, and bringing also a dozen of their number in 
doolies. The tired troops slept where they halted, and Delahaney 
lay in his cell awaiting the morrow's court, and the General 
paced up and down his verandah, even his strong nerve affected 
at the coming trial. And all the while the telegraph ticked 
news of further risings and mutinies, and cries for urgent 
help. 

That night an hour after sundown cholera broke out among 
the relieving column, broke with that suddenness and force 
that so marked the history of that scourge now happily brought 
under in India by the march of science. The men that day 
had broken their ranks in search of water, and, as soldiers 
always will, had drunk deep of the foulest water, deaf to all 
remonstrances, and parched beyond all care or patience. Two 
men were seized at nine o'clock, and by midnight there were 
fifty cases, the worst dying in an hour or so, till all order and 
discipline ceased, and men were seized with a panic. And 
the march of death followed an eccentric course, for every 
third man in one company went down, and then it took another 
company by alternate sections, till the doctors could no longer 
treat the cases, and the men had forced the guard and got at 
the rum godown. 1 By three in the morning the Destroying 
Angel had passed over the bivouacs of the troops, left untouched 
the crowded married quarters full of the refugee women and 
children, and the doctors began to hope. It was perhaps four 
when the sentry over Delahaney's cell fell down with his arms 
rattling on the pavement, and as it took him, it took also his 
prisoner. By dawn Patrick Delahaney was dead and the last 
debt paid, and ready to be buried with twenty-seven British 

1 Store. 



THE INDIAN MUTINY l8l 

soldiers who died that night. And with Delahaney the hand 
was stayed. He was the last case, and despite the horror of 
the sudden outbreak a load was lifted from the whole force and 
garrison. And with Patrick Delahaney the scourge passed 
away and disappeared, till men said he had expiated his crime. 
That very morning, gathering up his fit men, General Neil 
and his avengers passed on up country, the forerunner of many 
more, to the soldier's death he was yet to find, and the Brigadier 
resumed command of his district, and a hundred miles of 
communications, that he was to keep open as soon as some 
troops came to him. 

So stirring were the times that ere long the defence of the 
fort and the tragedy of Delahaney were forgotten, as happily 
in this world all tragedies are. But if you care to stroll down 
to the old cemetery by the Ganges, where lies half the history 
of India, you will find the monument to the men of the Lambs 
who died of that scourge of cholera, and the names of the poor 
dead thereon. Also by the side you will see a black slate bearing 
the inscription — 

P. D. 
1857 

R. I. P. 

— and underneath had been engraved the saying of the great 
King who had tasted all the bitterness that earth could give, 
and come to peace at the end — 

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose 
under heaven." 

For there was another in the station who knew the weakness 
of spirit that may come to the strong man grown old. 



XI 

THE FRONTIER WARS OF 1897 

The Storming of Dargai 
(20th of October, 1897) 

The coming of new wars dims the memory and the glory of 
those that are past, as the Peninsula drove the memories of 
Blenheim and Malplaquet and of Dettingen from men's minds, 
and salved the sores left by the American War and the follies 
of Flanders. South Africa dimmed the romance of the great 
war on the Indian Frontier of 1897, and the Great War thrust 
South Africa to the limbo of old forgotten things. But now 
and again it is good to take out the old stories and polish them 
up to be read, like the Apocrypha, for the benefit of learning 
and instruction. 

Now the storming of Dargai is worth re-telling, not only for 
the excitement and daring of the episode, a small enough one 
as such things go, but for its high mountain setting and all the 
great drama and romance that hang round the frontier hills 
of India, since Alexander of Macedon swept through them out 
of Bactria or Nadir Shah the Turk of Persia relieved his Mogul 
cousin of the Peacock throne. 

It is five and thirty years since Dargai was stormed and it is 
not necessary here to examine in any detail the story of the tribal 
borders; suffice it to say that the pushing forward of our outposts 
to improve our tactical and strategical position, and to be the 
better able to carry out our pledge to Afghanistan of assistance 
against Russia, had irritated and inflamed many of the clans. 
Added to this, the recent victory of Turkey over Greece had but 



THE FRONTIER WARS OF 1897 183 

added fuel to the Islamic enthusiasm which is always latent, 
and the drum ecclesiastic was openly beaten along the border. 

At that period the Army in India had completed for the first 
time a general scheme of mobilization based on modern lines in 
which every unit knew its place, and in which railway supplies and 
departmental services were interwoven. The threat of Russia to 
Afghanistan and India had produced the need for an up-to-date 
organization, and it was very soon to be put to the test. 

Early in the summer of 1897 the first outbreak began, dramatic 
enough in its setting, but without giving any alarm as to what 
was in store. Up in Waziristan, since the Wana affair of three 
years before, a British force had occupied one of the trade routes 
from Ghuzni. A political officer with a small escort was touring 
the district, settling discussions and disputes, and had camped 
at Maizar. The troops, drawn from the Frontier Force, acknow- 
ledged experts, but, like all experts, apt to grow careless, were 
suddenly attacked by the friendly tribesmen, in a very un- 
military position. Heavy losses took place and the detachment 
extricated itself with great difficulty. This started a local blaze, 
and, although the hot weather had set in, troops of all kinds 
were hurried to the area. A month or so later, to every one's 
surprise, the fire broke out a hundred miles or so farther north. 
The garrison in the Swat valley and on the top of the Malakand, 
close to the old Graeco-Bactrian road, were most unexpectedly 
and heavily attacked by a large and fanatical gathering of the 
clans which had come over the valleys from far and near. 

The defence and the relief entailed some fierce fighting. The 
attacking tribesmen, blessed by their priests, believed that those 
who doubted not were immune to British bullets and that 
British walls would fall as the faithful reached them. Despite 
the throes of a Punjab summer, divisions were hastily mobilized 
and pushed up to the border. A considerable force now pro- 
ceeded to visit the valleys north of Peshawur from which the 
attackers had come, and some severe fighting was witnessed. 
But hardly a month had elapsed when a burst of flame appeared 
near Peshawur itself, and the powerful Mohmand tribes poured 



184 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

across the border to be met in scorching heat by a British and 

Indian force at Shubkaddar in an action chiefly memorable for 

a charge by a portion of the 13th Bengal Lancers. Again was 

the mobilization scheme put into effect and more troops started 

for the border. But before the battalions and brigadiers could 

reach their brigades, fresh troubles broke out, north and south 

and east and west. The Khaiber Pass itself and the hills beyond 

lay chiefly among the Afridi tribes. By a convention of many 

years' standing, the chiefs in return for allowances maintained 

a corps of rifles, guided, and more or less managed, by the 

Political Officer of the Khaiber. The Afridi tribes caught the 

prevailing infection, and rose against law and order to which 

they were sworn. Then arose a series of incidents of which the 

Army in India still thinks with a shudder. The British officer 

in the Khaiber, heart and soul with the Khaiber Rifles, was called 

in to see his chief at Peshawur. Leaving the men who were 

prepared to hold the Khaiber forts against their own clansmen, 

expecting to be with them in a day, he withdrew. To his 

chagrin and anger he was not allowed to return, and the Rifles, 

after a desperate fight alone, lost their forts and the whole 

Khaiber was in a blaze. The confusion in India was now 

immense. No mobilization scheme could stand it. Units and 

commanders coming up in ordered procession were switched 

and diverted at odd railway stations to stem the current of rising 

and inroad as the needs of the hour demanded. But half India 

was moving up to the frontier. On a clear night, those in the 

Samana forts, looking anxiously westward, could see smoking 

trains far away across the plains of the Punjab, waiting at the 

crossing stations with their loads of troops and transport. But 

the Samana forts were to fall under the wave of tribal fury 

before the trains could get their loads to the mountains. With 

the Khaiber a raging whirlpool, the Orakzais could not keep 

quiet, and they surged over the Samana posts, Regulars and 

Militia, burning Saragarhi and massacring its Sikh garrison, 

and then swarmed into Kurram and Miranzai. Kohat, the 

frontier station on the way to the Kurram, was not then on the 



THE FRONTIER WARS OF 1897 185 

railway. Troops from the Indus railhead were marching up, 
but for some days the tribes had a free hand, to be seen in the 
shape of burnt police posts and smoking homesteads. 

Thus sporadically, where least expected, the frontier "went" 
till the conflagration had spread along the whole border. But 
the Army was now assembling. The tribes round the Malakand 
and the Mohmands had been subdued and punished, and, after 
much debate, the Government of India, stirred by public 
opinion after the disgraceful episodes of the Khaiber forts — a 
contumely, however, not quite so deserved as appearances 
suggested — decided that they would once and for all, in the 
picturesque frontier metaphor, "lift the Purdah," and penetrate 
into the fabulous Afridi Tirah and show those boastful and 
turbulent tribesmen that if the patience of Government "was 
as protracted as a winter's night, its arm was as long as a sum- 
mer's day." It was decided to enter that great upland via the 
Miranzai, and cut across the valleys by entering them high up, 
over the Chagru Kotal which led out of Miranzai. By following 
the Miranzai valley from Kohat the lie of the land made this 
possible, so that instead of fighting our way up long valleys 
between high hills, a force could concentrate by a fine road in 
accessible country, and, if well-equipped for mountain fighting, 
could cut across the valleys near their tops and descend on to 
the legendary plateaux in the heart of Afridi Tirah . . . 
legendary because, while the Afridis often l bukhed' x of their 
glories, no Europeans had seen them. 

It was my good fortune to take some part in the operations 
for the relief of the Samana posts, in those hot days when the 
conflagration was still breaking out. I had been for some years 
training Imperial Service Artillery, and had been sent up with 
Cookson 2 and the Jeypur Transport Train. 

While the flames roared and the troops climbed on the 
Samana heights we had brought up convoy after convoy of 

1 Bukhed = boasted. 

2 Later Major- General Cookson, long affectionately known in India as 
" Cookie." 



180 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

stores in our light carts from our railhead on the Indus, in 
intense heat. When the Government had decided to lift the 
Afridi Purdah, every mountain gun was wanted, and I was 
ordered back to Jammu to mobilize and bring up to Kohat one 
of the batteries I had been training (No. i Kashmir Mountain 
Battery), and in a couple of weeks returned to find a very large 
force assembling under the high bastions of the old Sikh fortress 
in Kohat; and a very memorable sight it was. Two divisions 
were assembling and marching up to Shinawri, forty-five miles 
from Kohat, a plain lying below the Samana, under the great 
pass of the Chagru Kotal above which the high cliffs of the 
Dargai ridge frowned down on the roadway. 

As I marched with my guns into Kohat, long lines of troops 
and transport could be seen winding down from the pass which 
led from Peshawur, whence the troops who had been dealing 
with the Mohmands were now coming to join the rest of the Tirah 
force. As these filed over the passes, other brigades were passing 
from Kohat up to the place of assembly. Sir William Lockhart 
was to command the force. General Yeatman Biggs, R.A., 
long known to his corps as "Y. B.," had the 2nd Division, of 
which a considerable portion was already on the Samana. 
Penn-Symonds, then of outstanding fame, had the ist Division, 
which was assembling at Kohat. But while the divisions 
hastened to the gathering, another famous Indian soldier, Sir 
Power Palmer, or " Long P.," as we called him, was commanding 
the troops as they assembled and would control the com- 
munications. As we marched amid the echelons out of Kohat, 
he and his staff jostled past us a-horseback, for the days of 
generals and staffs in motor cars had not yet come to jockey the 
marching troops. The weather had changed, the nights had 
grown cold and the heat of the days had passed, for it was now 
mid-December, and the concentration at Shinawri was nearly 
complete. The 2nd Division was either there or on the Samana 
hill-top close by, and the ist Division was already half assembled. 

Above the plain at Shinawri rose the great hills. Looking up 
at the Kotal 4,000 feet above us, we could see the mountain 



THE FRONTIER WARS OF 1897 187 

path, for it was little more, winding up a long spur. On the 
right of the pass, the Samana range itself came to an end in the 
mountain known as the Samana Sukh, which overhung the pass 
and the gorges on the far side. On the opposite side of the pass, 
and perhaps 500 feet higher, the great cliffs of the Dargai ridge 
also overhung in sheer precipice the denies down which the road 
wound to Karrappa in the Khanki valley, the home of the 
Orakzai tribes, who were now "for it" for their share in the 
attack on the Samana forts and their raids into Miranzai. 

From the top of the pass, the ridge of the Chagru Kotal was 
connected by a long steep spur with the Dargai ridge, running 
into it by a narrow neck with precipitous sides, which joined 
the foot of the cliffs some 400 feet from the summit, and from 
whence a goat track led slanting up the face of the cliffs. To 
the left of this neck the slopes fell away for many hundreds of 
feet in steep boulder and scrub-clad shale which led nowhere. 
To the right of the junction neck, the gorge dropped precipitous 
and dark, choked with scrub and fallen rocks, to the valley on 
the road at Karrappa. Now it was fairly obvious and in accord- 
ance with all rules that it would be impossible to commit the 
long lines of troops and vast convoys to this deep gorge, or even 
to the top of the pass, without holding the Dargai ridge, which 
was less than a mile from the bare top of the pass. 

Before we turn to the tactical action of the forcing and crossing 
of the pass, we had better look at the organization of the trans- 
port, for it is with this knowledge that we can learn some lessons 
which still hold good, and will hold good even when mechanical 
and electric mules scale mountain passes. The Army in India 
as a whole had very little organized transport, though the 
Frontier Force had excellent regimental animals. A very few 
mules and mule carts were maintained at the larger up-country 
stations. The work of the Army in its garrison was done by 
the carts and camels of the countryside, by contractors. All of 
which was very right and proper. No country wants to feed 
standing transport in time of peace. But, on the other hand, 
unless it has some system of organizing the resources of civil 



l88 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

life it cannot tackle sudden war. For generations this question 
of transport appears a lurid streak in Indian campaigns and has 
torn the guts out of the Indian Exchequer. In the days of Lake 
and Wellesley, the country was entirely served by bullock and 
camel, and long years of war had produced an efficient system 
of using them, which was soon forgotten in peace. It will be 
remembered how the Commander-in-Chief in India and the 
European troops from the Simla hills trying to retake Delhi 
after the outbreak in 1857 were delayed for weeks, while collect- 
ing ''carriage." The story of the Afghan War of 1878-1880 
is largely the story of "carriage." The old art had been for- 
gotten, and things were no better in 1897. The orders had 
gone forth to hire and to impress. But hiring is not always 
easy in times of danger, and to impress means animals without 
attendants. Tens of thousands of animals hastily impressed, 
dishonestly purchased, often without attendants and gear, were 
pushed up to the bases of the Army. Rubbishy gear was hastily 
bought and manufactured, worthless attendants were crimped 
and clothed. Willing but inexperienced officers and non- 
commissioned officers from units not mobilized were brought 
up to endeavour to evolve order out of chaos. And a good 
transport officer, here as in South Africa, was worth his weight 
in gold. Soldiers who can fight are always available. Men 
who can and will organize behind the line are harder to come 
by. When I went up to the Miranzai, with the Jeypur Trans- 
port, my father, an old-time officer, wrote, " I don't much like 
this Carter Patterson business." That was the old spirit that 
spoilt all efficiency of organization. The Knight and the Esquire 
would only handle sword and lance ! 

Sir William Lockhart's plans were perfectly straightforward. 
The force was to advance, the 2nd Division leading, into the 
Khanki valley. Then one more march, over the Sampagha pass 
to the head of the Mastura valley, then over once again into the 
headquarters of the Afridis at Bagh and Maidan, the "garden" 
and the "plain," the upland glory and boast of Afrididom. 
With the force was to go a long convoy of pack ponies with ten 



THE FRONTIER WARS OF 1897 189 

days' supplies for the two divisions. But the road was not yet 
fit even for camels. Pack ponies, the miserable little rats of the 
Markomans and other pack-carrying fraternities, thousands of 
little donkeys, all equipped with chatts often too big for them, 
all of which would have to wind over these difficult paths in 
single file behind two divisions, each with thirteen battalions 
and three mountain batteries all marching in single file, miles 
and miles and miles of them ! The head of the force must reach 
its destination long before the rear left camp, over pack paths 
that no one had ever seen. Equipped with this information it 
is interesting, too, to see the mess that followed. 

On the 1 8th of October that evil thing which crops up mis- 
handled in every military age was carried out — a reconnaissance- 
in-force of the Kotal and the Dargai heights. A portion of the 
troops at Shinawri under the command of Sir Power Palmer 
performed this operation. The Dargai ridge was actually 
carried in the morning of that day by the Gordon Highlanders, 
supported by a couple of mountain batteries, for thirteen 
casualties. The Orakzai tribesmen who held it were dislodged. 
But for want of hard thinking and a little bandobast the troops 
returned to camp nearly 5,000 feet below them at Shinawri, 
and lost fifty men in doing so. An Afridi lashkar camped in the 
Khanki valley had swarmed up the heights and hung on to the 
British rearguard. By the evening the high cliffs against the 
distant sky were stiff with their standards, and all the next day 
the sight remained to stir the gathering Army. 

On the 20th of October an early start was made by the 2nd 
Division, but a strange thing was ordered. The loading of pack 
convoys is a difficult and lengthy business, requiring much 
labour, which can only be done just as the animals start, unless 
they are to stand for hours under load, but this transport, 
including the ten days' rations, was to be loaded before dawn, 
for all troops. A wiser administration would have detailed a 
company x to remain behind with each corps to load when the 
time to join in the order of march approached. 

1 These were the days of eight companies to a battalion. 



190 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

Up went the head of the column before daylight, winding 
single file along the interminable road, Brigadier- General 
Kempster with the 3rd Brigade leading, followed by three 
mountain batteries. Even this force covered perhaps five miles 
of road. More troops cut in from the Samana, and a mountain 
battery and the divisional headquarters moved to the Samana 
Sukh. Kempster was to sweep along the spur leading from the 
Kotal to the Dargai heights and to swarm up them as had been 
done on the 18th. Three mountain batteries on the Kotal and 
one upon the Sukh were to support him. It was to be a baga- 
telle, and while Kempster held the ridge and the heights on the 
left side of the desert, the rest of the force, with its transport, 
would defile peacefully behind the leading brigade into the 
valley below. Soon after daybreak the 1/2 Gurkhas under 
Lieut.-Colonel Travers, followed by the Dorsets and supported 
by the Derbys (drawn from another brigade), started along the 
spur to the foot of the cliffs. The remaining two battalions of 
Kempster's Brigade, the Gordon Highlanders and the 15th 
Sikhs, waited on the top of the Kotal. With them also were 
the 3rd Sikhs. The leading battalions passed the still smoking 
remains of Mahmud Khan, a fortified hamlet that had been 
destroyed the day of the reconnaissance, and formed up under 
cover in a small depression behind a ridge whence the short 
neck already described connected the spur with the foot of the 
Dargai cliffs. Soon after 8 a.m. the mountain batteries on the 
Kotal and on the Sukh opened fire on the crest. Colonel 
Travers led his first few scouts across easily enough to some 
cover under overhanging rocks. Then the defenders awoke to 
what was in progress. The remainder of the Gurkhas attempt- 
ing to join their Colonel in extended order along the narrow 
neck, encountered a tremendous fire, chiefly of Martini bullets 
aimed by the best marksmen on the frontier. Every expert in 
the clefts above had two or three loaders. Hardly a shot missed 
its billet. The men, dribbling over, were hit time and again, 
and rolled down the slopes on either side or lay on the fairway. 
Colonel Travers had hoped, as soon as a fair clump of men 



THE FRONTIER WARS OF 1897 191 

joined him, to begin pushing up the goat tracks where there 
appeared to be occasional cover from rocks. But his party did 
not increase. The accurately aimed fire swept off all who 
ventured to join him. Then, after some time had elapsed, 
General Kempster ordered the Dorsets to try, and a similar 
fate awaited them. It seemed impossible to get over that fire- 
swept neck. Then some of the Derbyshire Regiment were 
ordered to make an attempt — a futile proceeding. There were 
already crowds of men and stretchers behind the little ridge 
and in the depression. More men only added to the confusion. 
All the morning long, this impasse grew. The Brigadier was 
impatient but could not get the rush over the neck. He reported 
to General Yeatman-Biggs, and asked if it was essential to carry 
the heights. General Biggs knew that the troops could not be 
committed to the gorges on the other side until the enemy, 
whose numbers seemed to be increasing, was driven from the 
cliffs. Another effort must be made. 

Then General Kempster sent for the Gordons and his Sikhs. 
By mistake the order got to a battalion not under his command, 
the 3rd Sikhs. The Gordons were moving off and the 3rd Sikhs 
followed them. Colonel Mathias, commanding the Gordons, 
received his orders that the heights must be carried at all costs. 

The afternoon was now advancing, and Mathias apparently 
realized that Gordon Highlanders were no more immune than 
anyone else, and that to dribble them over could only mean that 
the kilts would lie on the slope among Colonel Travers' Gurkhas 
and the Dorsets. Besides, it was obvious that a long climb up 
the face of the cliffs was to follow, and that only swarms of men 
following individual leaders would be likely to make the ascent. 
In fact it seemed to all onlookers that even when the neck was 
passed in sufficient numbers a still more difficult task remained. 

However, the first thing was to get enough men over the neck 
to be able to swarm up the cliffs. All the while there was a mass 
of tired, thirsty, and dispirited soldiers jammed up with ammuni- 
tion mules and wounded in the small covered space behind the 
ridge. With difficulty Mathias got his men formed up in an 



192 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

irregular mass behind cover. He had realized that a mass alone 
would get over, that in the space of time they were on the ridge 
only a certain number of men could be hit. 

Then occurred the inspiriting operation of which so much 
was written at the time. Colonel Mathias ordered officers and 
pipers to the front. The Colonel strode out in front and the 
pipes set up " Cock of the North." And out on to that narrow 
ridge scrambled a mass of some six hundred cheering High- 
landers. The artillery redoubled their supporting fire, and 
though many men fell, the mass, as the Colonel expected, got 
over, and in their train came Gurkhas, Sikhs, and the men of 
Dorset and Derby. Piper Findlater, lying wounded in the neck, 
played his pipes as the men rushed on, a gallant incident that 
especially delighted the public. 

The neck crossed, the companies set themselves in some 
confusion to scramble upwards along the slopes and goat-paths 
and among rocks and crevices. It was a matter of at least three 
hundred difficult feet, and every one thought it would be the 
worst; but no! the heavy rifle fire soon died away, and the 
leading files gained the top at various parts almost unmolested. 
The tribesmen had seized their standards and had gone. 

What had happened? Two things must have contributed to 
the result. First, of course, the impressive sight of the masses 
of Highlanders and other units swarming over the neck below, 
and secondly the artillery fire. The effect of the artillery was in 
this wise. The marksmen sweeping the neck were ensconced 
invulnerably among rocks and clefts whence no shrapnel bullet 
could reach them. In absolute security they picked off the 
individual figures below them. But when it came to repelling 
the men swarming up the goat-tracks, it was another matter. 
The marksmen had to come out of their crevices, and the 
remainder of the line had to emerge also from behind the rocks 
and lean far over to fire on the climbers. But then the artillery 
came into play. From the spluttered marks of the shrapnel 
bullets it was evident that to do this now meant considerable 
exposure, while though the batteries below on the Kotal could 



THE FRONTIER WARS OF 1897 193 

spatter the top of the rocks, the guns far up on the Sukh could 
bring a high angle of searching fire. This, together with the 
breaking of the original spell, destroyed the determination of 
the tribes. 

That is the end of the story, but for learning and instruction 
let us see the aftermath of the loading order, and of failing to 
maintain an organization for the expansion of army transport. 
The ridge was not carried till late in the afternoon. It was quite 
impossible to think of continuing the march that night. The 
troops bivouaced as best they could. The convoys stood 
patiently all that night under load on the hillside for the six or 
seven miles of road back to Shinari. On the tnazri-clad plain 
below thousands of animals which had not even started the 
ascent stood in dark masses the night through. None was 
watered that night, only near a transport officer were any of the 
beasts fed. It was quite impossible to take off any loads. Many 
a weakly animal collapsed under its load in the twenty-six hours 
they had waited. Then they began to file slowly down the Kotal 
into the Khanki valley. Thousands collapsed on the difficult 
descent. Of those that got into camp at the far end, all had been 
unfed, unwatered, and under load for the best part of forty 
hours. Thousands died or were destroyed and the whole 
operation was delayed while fresh convoys of food were organ- 
ized and fresh beasts brought up from India, all from the folly 
of what, in those days, passed for staff officers. But it is a thing 
that might easily happen again, and it is worthy of remembrance 
as a warning. Plans may go wrong, but even had the heights 
been carried without delay, those animals would have remained 
under load for over twenty-four hours without water. Had the 
course been taken of leaving a hundred men per battalion to load 
up transport when required, none of this would have happened. 

It is not necessary to continue the story. The campaign was 
carried out with great endurance on the part of the troops, 
considerable audacity on the part of the tribes, and an ex- 
asperating want of good will in the higher machinery which was 
responsible for many of the regrettable incidents and disasters 



194 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

which took place. We learned a good deal about frontier 
warfare in the face of the breech-loaders which was very different 
to facing the old sword and matchlock men. Some brigadiers 
discovered that it was their business to see that rearguards got 
home and were supported, and General Kempster's Brigade 
came in for several hard knocks after the storming of Dargai. 
To be " Kempstered " became a ribald phrase which the army 
used, and "I'm Kempstered if I do" a camp expression of 
dissent, which was perhaps hard on a fighting brigadier — but 
such is the way of armies. 



XII 
FROM SEPOY TO SUBAHDAR 

In 1873 there appeared, from the hands of a local printer 
at Lahore, a book of the above name, being the translation 
of an autobiography in the vernacular of one Seetaram, a 
pensioned subahdar in the service of the Honourable East 
India Company. To be a subahdar, let alone a pensioned 
subahdar, in that service, was to have attained close on three- 
score years and ten, as you may tell from the tally of ages on 
the memorial over the long trench graves at Chillianwallah ; 
and the period of Seetaram's active service was close on half 
a century. He rested from his labours soon after the Great 
Mutiny, in loyalty and honour, and he joined the army before 
the Nepal and Mahratta-cww-Pindari wars. That is to say, 
his services covered the period of all the great Indian campaigns 
of the English except those of General Lake and Sir Arthur 
Wellesley. 

His autobiography would therefore be a storehouse of side- 
lights from, to some extent, beneath the harrow, as Colonel 
Norgate of the Bengal Staff Corps, who was the original trans- 
lator, recognised, and wrote a preface to the edition of 1873 
— though it would appear that an earlier translation of some 
kind was made, as it is referred to in a Times of 1863. Colonel 
Norgate himself received it from the author in 186 1. A reprint 
was made in 1880, also by a local firm in Lahore. It attracted 
Lord Kitchener's attention as full of useful lessons which 
still held good for those who would see below the surface, 
and who have to deal with the Indian soldier of to-day. It 
was accordingly republished in Calcutta, edited by Lieut.- 
Colonel Phillot, of the Board of Examiners, and also translated 

195 



196 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

into Urdu under his supervision. Lord Kitchener made it one 
of the official textbooks for the examination in Urdu by the 
Higher Standard. Its wisdom was invaluable, the while its 
very allusions stimulated interest in the history of the British 
in India in the eventful first half of the nineteenth century, 
unfortunately some less wise authority has removed it from 
the canon. 

The fascination which first moved Colonel Norgate to 
translate the book does not fade as time rolls on; and its simple 
reflections and ingenuous deductions, as well as the sidelights 
that it throws on events of which we now only read in official 
histories, have a peculiar charm. In sending his work to the 
first translator Colonel Norgate, Seetaram says that he has 
received seven wounds and six war medals ; and if half of what 
he tells be true, he certainly deserved these latter. 

Seetaram, a Brahmin of Oude of a fighting clan, was born 
near the one-time Rajput centre of Ajudya, the son of Ganga- 
ram Pande. Men of the Pande clan served largely in the old 
army of the Bengal Line; and it will be remembered how 
Mangal Pande, the first mutineer, was responsible for the 
bestowal of the generic name of "Pandy" on the mutineers. 
When seventeen years of age, after a careful and orthodox 
upbringing in the house of the family priest, the young Brahmin's 
love of adventure was stirred by the return from the wars of 
his maternal uncle, a jemadar in a line battalion of the Company. 
The lad at once caught the scarlet fever badly, and longed, 
to the horror of his mother and the family priest, to shoulder 
a pike also. The father having a pending lawsuit, and mindful 
of the interest at the court of Oude which service with the 
British conferred, rather encouraged the boy's martial ardour, 
and a few months saw him returning with his uncle to his 
cantonment at Agra. Seetaram had never seen a sahib, and 
had the wildest ideas concerning them. His first introduction 
to one was seeing the adjutant measuring recruits in the verandah 
of his bungalow, and his surprise at hearing the adjutant address 
his uncle in the vernacular was great. His next adventure is 



FROM SEPOY TO SUBAHDAR 197 

the interview with the small, red-faced old man with the eye 
of a hawk, who he finds is the colonel of a thousand men. In 
every case he is struck with the consideration with which his 
uncle the jemadar is received. In a parenthesis he here bewails 
the fact that the new sahibs are not like the old sahibs, and can't 
talk the language as well as they could. It is always the same 
story in the East, the same now as a hundred years ago, when 
Seetaram took the shilling — the new sahibs are not like the 
old sahibs. You hear the same in the clubs, — the new soldier 
is not like the old soldier — the new rank and file are not like 
the old rank and file, — and yet every one knows that for activity 
and physique the old regiments were not in it with the new 
ones. We need not follow the young Brahmin through his 
recruit stages, save to note the delight with which he left the 
recruit squad to don his red coat, — boys are much like one 
another whether skin be white or brown ; but it is interesting to 
note that then as now, and then as ever, some sahib stood out 
in the regiment as a wonder and a power and a demigod. In 
Seetaram's regiment this wonderful Englishman was "Buram- 
peel " Sahib (he cannot be traced, but it may have been Bloom- 
field), and he at once became an object of intense veneration 
to the lad, and remained so all his life. These wonderful 
Burampeel Sahibs are the men who enable the English to lead 
alien races to victory, from the banks of the Nile to the Great 
Wall of China, from burning desert to perpetual snow, come 
rain come shine — and the secret is the gift of the gods. It is 
to be noticed that when a corps wants to mutiny, it is the first 
business of the instigators to get rid of the Burampeels, lest 
their influence counteracts the poison. 

That, however, is a story that comes much later, and we 
may notice that the rest of Seetaram's sahibs appeared to him 
very ordinary sahibs, who had nicknames in the ranks, such 
as the Oont Sahib (camel), the Nawab Sahib, the Damn Sahib, 
etc., but no one ever dared give Burampeel Sahib 2. nickname. 

Here Seetaram has a reflection to make. Since the Mutiny 
the Lalkurtee (red coat — viz., Queen's Army) officers do not 



198 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

treat the Indian soldiers in the way they used, which he admits 
is small wonder. Even when he was one of the force that 

relieved Lucknow, he was a "d d black pig," and recalls 

how when he made chappaties in Cabul for officers of the 13th 

and 41st Foot, it was "Jack Sepoy was a d d good fellow." 

Seetaram says he was always on good terms with the European 
soldiers, who used to treat them well, and why wouldn't they, 
for "did we not do all their hard work? We took their guards 
in the heat, we stood sentry over their rum casks. But the 
new soldiers from Europe are not so fine as the old ones." And 
he had heard that the Russ cannon killed all the big ones. " In 
the old days the 17th Foot called us brothers, the 16th Lancers 
never walked near our chulas (cooking-places)." The old 
man's recollections of the Nepal or Ghurka war are merely 
those of the young private in the ranks — his chief memories 
being of the repulse at the hill-fort of Nala-pani, where forty- 
eight men of his own corps were killed and two whole companies 
of white soldiers, whose comrades, he remarks, were nothing 
daunted, and came on again "like young cocks." Burampeel 
Sahib, to the great grief of the regiment, had an arrow through 
the chest and had to be invalided to England. After the final 
successful campaign of a rather disastrous war, we find the 
following reflection: "The English respect brave men and do 
not kill them. Is not this curious, for is not a brave man the 
most dangerous enemy? . . . The wounded snake can kill 
as long as life remains. If your enemy is not worth killing 
he is not worth fighting with." And thus the philosophy of 
the East, and as a recent Indian historian of the Mutiny has 
put it, when talking of the massacres of the women and children, 
"Would I kill a serpent and leave the eggs?" Which, after all, 
is simple human nature, without the shadow of the Prince 
of Peace. 

Of all the curses under which the peasantry and traders of 
Hindustan groaned, and from which the British saved them, 
though now they would forget it, that of the Pindaris was 
perhaps the worst. The break-up of the Mogul armies had 



FROM SEPOY TO SUBAHDAR 199 

given rise to a race of free-lances, buccaneers, and masterless 
men, who had formed themselves into bands under various 
leaders, and lived at their ease on the countryside. They 
raided with merciless and fiendish cruelty for hundreds of 
miles round the fortified places of refuge that they had made 
for themselves on the banks of the Nerbudda and in the more 
inaccessible parts of Central India. At last, in 1816, the Company 
and its allies could stand it no longer, and the Marquess of 
Hastings collected a large army at various points surrounding 
the Pindari districts, with a view to exterminating the nest 
once and for all. 

It is not necessary to deal here with the intrigues and cabals 
that brought several of the Mahratta Chiefs into the field 
against us instead of assisting us to the good government and 
welfare of their own and neighbouring lands. Suffice it to say 
that the Pindari war developed into a Mahratta war, and to 
the war marched Seetaram, a young though fully trained sepoy 
of the Honourable Company's Bengal Line. Wounded and 
left in the jungle in one of the lesser skirmishes, he was rescued 
by villagers. Returning by a good chance to his regiment, after 
thirteen days' absence, with a bullet in his back, he succeeded, 
he relates, in winning for the first time the approbation of his 
adjutant by not losing his musket and ammunition, — an interest- 
ing light on the fact that the way to an adjutant's heart has 
always been the same. Seetaram tells us also the old story, 
that the Pindaris always had better information than the British. 
However secret the British movements, they always seemed 
known to the enemy, — an ancient problem. Our army generally 
met the enemy when the spies reported none near for twenty 
coss. Oh, memory of the good De Wet and Rechter Hertzogg ! 
The countryside sympathised with the Pindari for all their 
loot and cruelty, because, says Seetaram, give them a horse, 
and all would have looted on their own account. 

Seetaram talks of the cholera as a new disease, unknown to 
the English and to the natives. When the war was over Seetaram 
returned on furlough, to frighten his mother, who thought 



200 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

him a ghost. A telling of travellers' and soldiers' tales to his 
gaping fellow-villagers was a famous amusement to Seetaram, 
the furlough man, till he mentioned his rescue by villagers 
and the girl who had given him water. But he had reckoned 
without the village Brahmin, who at once reviled him as unclean, 
and excommunicated him, till fines and a Brahmin's feast at 
his expense had wiped out the stain. Seetaram remarks, " Five 
years' savings were thus expended, but who can combat destiny ! " 
Sick furlough over, Seetaram rejoins, to find his beloved Buram- 
peel Sahib back from Europe. He remarks, "I have never 
seen more than two sahibs like Burampeel Sahib, and they 
were asal Belaitee (real English), not sahibs from the hilly 
island." The allusion here is not a clear one: possibly the 
Scotch or Irish who so largely held the Company's commissions 
did not meet with the old man's approval. 

The war was still in progress, and Seetaram relates the rescue 
from an Arab, in the act of killing, a young girl, daughter of a 
Thakoor in Bundelcund, whom the Arab had carried off. 
Burampeel Sahib, when appealed to, had the girl taken care of 
on behalf of the sepoy, but the adjutant of the regiment proposed 
to buy her from Seetaram for four hundred rupees. Seetaram 
was much enamoured of her beauty, and Burampeel Sahib 
explained the case to the colonel, when she was allowed to 
accompany the regiment as the lad's wife. It is such a story 
as that of the famed Juanita, the Spanish girl, rescued in the 
sack of a town by young Harry Smith, whose wife and constant 
companion she became. In storming a fort the whole of 
Seetaram's company were blown up, his uncle killed, and he 
himself badly injured. The hospitals were so full that the 
sahibs gave up their tents for the wounded. Seetaram marvels 
at the mad mercy of the Sirkar in not hanging the governor 
of the fort. The British view, that the man had been faithful 
to his own master, did not appeal to him, though now and 
again he recognises that there is magnanimity in such acts, 
even if foolish in their conception. Indeed, he is always at 
pains to bring out the acts of the British that he recognises 



FROM SEPOY TO SUBAHDAR 201 

as just and worthy, even when he cannot himself admire the 
ethics that inspired them. 

After the Pindari war Seetaram is offered promotion in a 
new battalion that was being raised in Futtehghur — one of those 
many new battalions that the constant extension of the British 
dominion rendered necessary, and which, unbalanced by any 
corresponding increase in the European garrison, finally resulted 
in that top-heavy Bengal army which blew up in the cataclysm 
of '57. Major "Gardeen," the new CO., is described as an 
eccentric character, who came on parade in shooting dress, 
and threw his heavy stick at the heads of stupid recruits. 
Seetaram grieves at parting from Burampeel Sahib, saying 
again that "Only one Burampeel Sahib ever came from Belait." 

With the new battalion, then come to some six years of 
age, Seetaram had marched with Combermere Sahib to the 
ever-memorable capture of Bhurtpur, which had so successfully 
defied the repeated assaults of Lord Lake and his large army. 
His company was amongst the stormers of the big bastion 
after the mine had been exploded, and the final exaltation that 
accrued to the Company at the capture of the impregnable 
place was viewed and duly noted on by this corporal of sepoys. 
Seetaram now became pay havildar, but lost that post through 
the prevailing custom of lending money to the British officers. 
He had lent Rs. 500 of the men's money to his captain, who 
could not repay when the pay havildar was called on unexpectedly 
to produce it. 

He gives an instance of the curbing of the powers of com- 
manding officers and the interference by higher authority, 
which was so happily done away with at the time of the post- 
Mutiny reconstruction. A havildar was tried for gross insolence 
to a superior officer and dismissed the service. He journeyed 
to Simla, threw himself at the feet of the Ldt Sahib's lady 
and was reinstated, or at least that is how the transaction was 
viewed by the simple Seetaram. The loss of power of the 
regimental officers, due to many pernicious and unnecessary 
causes, has often been noted as one of the minor concomitant 



202 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

causes of the Mutiny ; it is interesting to see that Seetaram held 
the same views. Seetaram complains of the want of show 
and dress of the sahibs as failing to impress the oriental mind. 
Only tnemsahibs, he says, appear at nautches as princesses 
should look. He had asked his officers why they too did not 
appear as princes and rulers: one had told him that it was 
considered a shame to wear jewels that had not been conferred 
as an honour; another sahib had told him that his memsahib 
wanted to wear so many jewels that he himself could not afford 
to do so! Seetaram appeals for continuity in officers. " Among 
us is a great dislike of new ways; ... it takes us a long 
time to learn the ways of a sahib, and when the men are accus- 
tomed to him, it is not good to have him removed." The cry 
is as true to-day as when Seetaram handled the Company's 
musket. At this stage of his memoirs the old subahdar tells us 
what he thinks of the new post-Mutiny army and their dis- 
contents, — all wise talk, and by no means all out of date. The 
following is not without its modern application: "The practice 
of the Sirkar of keeping several regiments of native troops 
together at the same station is not wise. It is then that the 
young men get musth (above themselves) and swagger about 
in the bazaars, puffed up with vain conceits, and talk of things 
they had better not. They forget the giver of their salt." 

The next great event of history in which Seetaram took 
part was the expedition to Cabul, to put the exiled King Shah 
Soojah of the Suddozai tribe of the Durani nation once 
again on the throne of his fathers, so that a British puppet 
should keep the shadow of the bear off the sunlit empire of 
Hindustan. Seetaram was offered promotion into a new 
regiment of the Shah's Contingent, as the force was called that 
was being raised on his behalf. So to Cabul, vid Candahar 
and the Bolan Pass, marched Seetaram with the Contingent, 
for his third great war. His account of the march to Cabul 
contains nothing new, nor is it necessary to follow the vicissitudes 
of the first phase of the campaign which, after the storming 
of Ghuzni, terminated with the restoration of the Shah and the 



FROM SEPOY TO SUBAHDAR 203 

establishment of a British cantonment in Cabul. Here Seetaram 
makes mention of one of the well-known causes of the Afghan 
hatred of our occupation — viz., the partiality of Afghan ladies 
of rank for the British officers; and he refers to it at some 
length. 

Present with his regiment at all the vicissitudes which over- 
took the unfortunate garrison, he marched with them to their 
undoing in the Khurd Cabul Pass, and being wounded with a 
musket-ball, was taken prisoner, carried back to Cabul, and 
in common with many of the high-caste sepoys of Hindustan, 
sold as a slave in the market-place, only fortunate that frost-bite 
had not removed a limb. Rs. 240 was the price the powerful 
young Brahmin fetched in the market-place, where he relates, 
several Europeans were also placed on sale, but whom some 
skins of Shiraz wine had apparently reconciled to their situation. 
One sahib he saw among the prisoners who cheered him by 
telling of the great army the Sirkar would undoubtedly send. 
Oosman Beg, his new master, treated him well, and had him 
taught Persian, threatening only terrible penalties in the event 
of an attempt to escape. The advance of the Avenging Army, 
left Seetaram, as it did many of his comrades, still a slave, and 
he had the mortification of hearing that the English, after 
burning the bazaar at Cabul, had left Afghanistan for good 
and all. To his own unaided efforts he must owe his release, 
and at last a camel-droving Powindah promised to see him 
through to British territory in return for a signed promise 
for a payment of Rs. 500. 

In October, 1843, Seetaram arrived at Ferozepore, by way 
of the Gomal Pass and Dera Ismael Khan, to find himself 
forgotten of the world and at great difficulty of finding even 
food. The Brigade-major at Ferozepore refused to believe 
his story, or to help in the matter of the ransom. Before the 
magistrate he claimed release, since his camel-driver swore 
he was his slave, but got no help. Then to the Commissioner 
went the exile, and found the Subahdar on guard to be an old 
comrade, who at first received his story with some incredulity. 



204 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

By the help of the Subahdar and the Commissioner the money 
was paid, and Seetaram found himself free, but penniless and 
dressed in his Afghan rags. Hurrying to the lines of a native 
regiment, to his horror, instead of sympathy, he was spurned 
as unclean and defiled, and even accused of having accepted 
Islam. The Brigade-major by now was convinced of the 
truth of Seetaram's story, and took him to the Brigadier. This 
officer was more than kind, took him in, gave him money, and 
arranged for him to be reinstated in his old regiment. This 
he now joined, was well received by his old colonel, and posted 
to it as a havildar. In the regiment, however, he was an outcast 
among his fellow Poorbeahs, and could only associate with 
the Christian drummers and the Muhammadans. During a 
visit to his home he was readmitted into caste, and his father 
helped to pay his ransom debt. His son had enlisted into the 
Bengal army and was away in Sinde. His first wife was dead, 
and the beautiful Thakoorin whom he had rescued from the 
Arab and married as a second wife had gone away, it was said, 
to try to find her old home. Going in search of her to Bundel- 
cund, he found her living with her brother, and she rejoined 
him. Through his colonel's help, Government finally paid 
him the amount of ransom, but refused any back pay, unless 
he could find some one to certify to his record while with the 
Shah's Contingent. So all Seetaram's wars and years of service 
had but brought him to the position of a havildar. 

He now tells us of the gossip and talk in his regiment at 
the failing prestige of the British, so diminished by the Kabul 
disasters, and how his colonel, to whom he repeated what he 
had heard, refused to hear more, but said he had a jealousy of the 
regiment. Seetaram mentions the advent of emissaries of 
the King of Delhi into the lines (the regiment was at Delhi). 
The sepoy regiments between Delhi and Ferozepore were, 
according to Seetaram, full of mutiny and discontent. The 
Sikh invasion of the Sutlej, however, diverted the public 
attention and the sepoys' minds. Seetaram with his regiment 
now took part in the terrible battle of Ferozeshah, and describes 




r, j6„ JBrrl 



[Face £age 204 



FROM SEPOY TO SUBAHDAR 205 

it as quite different from anything previously experienced, and 
talks of the famous charge of the 3rd Light Dragoons (still 
more famous at the previous battle of Moodkee) having changed 
the fate of the day. He mentions an item of that terrible night 
bivouac on the field of Ferozeshah, under the muzzles of the 
guns of the as yet unconquered Sikh batteries. An officer, 
not tipsy, but under the need of mental stimulant or 
sedative, walked up and down all night singing, and would 
not desist. 

At Sobraon Seetaram witnessed the destruction of the Sikhs 
at the broken bridge, and was himself knocked senseless by a 
sepoy's musket driven against him as its owner was struck 
down by a round-shot. He relates how close to the bridge-head 
he saw a European soldier about to bayonet a wounded Sikh, 
who begged for mercy and called out in English, whereon 
the European kicked him several times and then bayoneted 
him. A deserter in the enemy's ranks was no rare thing in 
India, there being the just related instance of the artillery 
sergeant who deserted to the enemy at the second siege of 
Bhurtpur, and directed the cannon that fired on the Commander- 
in-Chief's tent. Now and again half- misty stories come through 
of similar occurrences in the Mutiny, and Sir Henry Norman 
even mentions a European woman being hanged at Meerut for 
her share in the outbreak there. After the occupation of Lahore 
Seetaram tells us that the Sirkar's ikhbal (prestige and fortune) 
stood very high, and all the talk and discontent that he speaks 
of earlier had passed away for the time. The luck of the Com- 
pany Bahadur was in every one's mouth, for nothing succeeds 
like success. After this campaign Seetaram, with thirty-five 
years' service, attained the rank of jemadar, and though with 
four medals to show for it, had little of the wealth that he had 
looked for when as a young man he had left his village in Oude 
to shoulder the Company's musket. 

But the faithful Seetaram had not yet done with wars, in 
spite of his thirty-five years' service. The outbreak of the 
Second Sikh War took his regiment into the thick of the soldiers' 



206 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

battle at Chillian wallah. In his account is one of those small 
points which constantly occur in the narrative, and do so much 
to establish the credibility of the statements which rest on it 
as their only authority. A new colonel had joined the regiment 
that day, and during the struggle through the thick scrub, 
stopped the regiment from firing on a red-coated corps in 
their front, saying they were our own men. The officers, says 
Seetaram, kept telling him it was a Sikh corps, because they 
could see the black cross-belts, while those of the sepoy corps 
were white. Now the well-known coloured prints of the war 
always show the Sikhs in scarlet coatees and shell jackets with 
black belts. Seetaram says that the colonel was still afraid, 
and galloped up to the doubtful corps, which fired a volley in 
his face, whereon, unscathed, he galloped back, shouting, 
"All right! Fire away sepoy log" Seetaram tells us that the 
sepoys were not half so afraid of the Sikhs as in the campaign 
against them two years ago, and went at them much more 
readily. 

No doubt the Sikhs too had lost there best corps in the 
Sutlej after Sobraon. During the long wait after the battle, 
when the two forces watched each other, the sepoys and the 
Sikhs used to meet and talk while bathing in the Jhelum, 
which ran close to both camps. The men of the European 
cavalry regiments would occasionally sally out and have 
unauthorised single combats with Sikh horsemen. Seetaram 
says he used to be much struck with the different behaviour 
of the British and Indian wounded. The former would lie 
still and shake their fists, cursing the enemy; while the latter 
would dance around, hugging the wounded limb, calling out, 
"Dohai, Dohaiy Company Bahadur!" (Have pity, Great Com- 
pany). At the "crowning mercy" of Goojerat, Seetaram's 
regiment was on baggage guard. So Jemadar Seeteram after 
his thirty-five years of service, escaped with his life from his 
fifth great campaign. Young he was in years, however, compared 
with many of the senior native officers of the Company's Bengal 
Army, where seniority alone counted for promotion. On the 



FROM SEPOY TO SUBAHDAR 207 

pillar over the long trench graves at Chillianwallah already 
referred to, it is recorded that a subahdar of seventy and a 
jemadar of sixty-five were among the killed. 

One great trial was still to be demanded of him, that of the 
Great Fear, when that famous army dissolved in a whirl of 
madness and mutiny; but before even this there was to be 
one more campaign, this time a minor one. In 1856 the Sonthal 
rebellion broke out — a rising of aboriginal hill and jungle 
tribes against the evils of direct administration and oppressive 
subordinates; and to the Sonthal hills and jungle marched 
Seetaram. The old man found the war a little incomprehensible : 
at one part of the country we were firing on them, at another 
feeding them with cart-loads of corn. 

Seetaram now comes to the period immediately preceding 
the Mutiny, and the talk after the annexation of Oude. In 
April, 1857, he says, he again told the colonel what he knew 
of what was going on, — the talk of the greased cartridge, the 
excitement among the men, the come and go of the emissaries 
of the King of Oude and the old Mogul Emperor at Delhi, 
and the discontent among the troops serving in the Punjab 
and Sind for the loss of their batta. Away at his home came 
the news of the outbreak at Meerut, and then gradually news 
of its spreading. Seetaram, from his well-known sympathy 
with the English, came in for suspicion and ill-treatment. A 
party of sepoys passing through his village carried him a 
prisoner to Lucknow, and here he relates that though there 
were two subahdars, a sepoy had command of the party — the 
assertion of the will of the strong men, as it were, over the mere 
seniority-derived rank of the native officers. Before they got 
to Lucknow they were attacked by some sahibs acting as 
troopers, and Seetaram, who, luckily for him, was in chains, 
was rescued from the mutineers, and appointed also a trooper 
among these European volunteer cavalrymen. After some 
service as such, he was, through the good offices of the command- 
ing officer of this cavalry troop, made an extra jemadar in a 
Punjabi regiment. Never, says Seetaram, did he see the sepoys 



208 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

put up a good fight against the British, though he adds that it 
seems to have been different at Delhi. 

Here comes the crowning tragedy of the old man's life. In 
one of the enclosures round Lucknow many mutineers had 
been captured. Seetaram's regiment was on duty, as carrying 
out executions, and Seetaram himself was in command of the 
firing-party. He was asking the names of the condemned men, 
when one gave the number of the regiment of the son that he 
had not seen for many years. The old man asked after his son, 
Anunteeram, of the Light Company. The wretched man said, 
"I am Anunteeram, from Tillowee, the son of Seetaram 
Jemadar." He fell at his father's feet, and the father rushed 
to the major to ask to be relieved of command of the firing- 
party. The officer refused at first, but when, he heard that it 
was the man's own son that he was called on to execute, he 
sent for the prisoner to question him, and relieved the father 
of the duty. The old man never thought even of begging 
for the lad's life — that was too doubly forfeit; and he went 
to his tent amid the jeers of the Sikhs of the corps. He was 
allowed to perform the last rites over his son's body, the only 
corpse to which such was permitted. Seetaram relates that 
the major was much blamed by his brother officers for allowing 
even this kindness to a mutineer's father, for feelings were 
running more than high, and the war was a Voutrance y since 
there is nothing so bitter as authority flouted, especially with 
all the concomitants of that terrible rising. 

At the end of the campaign in the Terai, Seetaram at sixty- 
five years of age is promoted subahdar, and here we come across 
the first subject for complaint in all that patient life. Too old 
to double and do light infantry drill, he complains that he was 
shouted at by the adjutant, and the commanding officer called him 
every sort of name, and forcibly invalided him from the service, 
as unfit for more work. It was no doubt high time, but possibly 
in the weariness of the reconstruction, and the rebuilding of 
a new army on the amazing ashes of the old, Seetaram did 
not get the consideration that his age and services merited. 



FROM SEPOY TO SUBAHDAR 200, 

The old man then moralises on the heart-breaking system 
of the Company, when men came to rank at an age when they 
were past justifying it, and speaks of the way in which the 
irregular corps, when the officers arrived at the rank of subahdar 
while in their prime, kept their men in order; but he laments 
the end of the Company's rule, and thought its successor far 
more harsh and uncompromising. Seetaram mourns, too, the 
new type of officer, out of sympathy with the men, but that 
was a transition stage, and has long ago changed for the better. 
But it is an old, old cry, that the new sahibs are not like the 
old sahibs! 

Seetaram concludes the quaint and natural description of 
his life with some few remarks on the causes of the Mutiny, 
confirming those generally accepted, and with some reviling 
of the Mussulmans of India as the instigators of all trouble 
and the ruin of all moral codes and worth since their arrival 
in India. He then concludes with an acknowledgment of the 
peace and position his pension has conferred on him at the 
end of a long and hard life, and with an appeal to the officer 
at whose request he had written his memoirs, never to forget 
that he had always been wholeheartedly devoted to the British 
cause. It is all refreshing reading, partly because of naive 
criticism, partly because of his recognition of the good intention 
of the Sirkar, be it never so unintelligible. It is perhaps most 
pleasing for its evidence of the obvious enthusiasm that the 
British officers of the best type had inspired in this man of 
ancient warrior race. It throws light on the simple character 
in many ways of the old Bengal sepoy and his successors, who 
in patience and courage have carried the eagles, come rain 
come shine, from the Mediterranean to the Great Wall of 
China, and from the deserts of Egypt to the snows of the Hindu 
Kush and the swamps of Burma. It enables us to get a glimpse 
of that devotion which the British officer has been able to 
attract, and which has something more at its fount than the 
mark on an attestation paper. It also enables us to see where 
half a century ago the shoe was pinching, and where to this 



210 VIGNETTES FROM INDIAN WARS 

day it is apt to pinch again. The book is full of information 
for the sepoy officer to-day, and it is because Lord Kitchener 
listened to those who brought it to his notice that it became 
a textbook for the compulsory language tests in Hindustani 
that officers of the Indian Army must pass. It is good reading, 
in that it carries the reader through half a century of Indian 
history, and the vicissitudes that a soldier of the great British 
Empire, white, black, or brown, is ever liable to undergo, 
and the chances that are so well summed up in the old chant 
of the sepoy already quoted, Khubi sukh, khubi dukh, Angrez 
ha naukar, which may be interpreted — 

" Sometimes pleasure, sometimes pain, 
The servant of the English." 



INDEX 



Abbott, Major, at Jalalabad, 82 
Afghan Horse, at Gujerat, 152 

— at Paniput, 27 
Afghan War, First, 72 

— Causes of, 74 

— Route of Army, 74 
Afghanistan and Durani, 73 
Afridis, 185 

Afridi Tirah, 185 

Age of Subahdars at Chillianwallah, 142 

Agra, 4, 31 

Ahmed Shah the Durani, 16 

— at Anupshahr, 21 

Akbar Khan, at Jalalabad, 79 

Alexander of Macedon crosses Jhelum, 137 

Aligarh, Storming of, 50 

Aliwal, Battle of, 131 

Allard, General, 83 

Alumgir, the Emperor, 17 

Ameers of Sind, no 

Amhurst, Lord, at Bhurtpur, 56 

Amir Khan the Pindari, 51 

Annexation of the Punjab, 157 

Arabs in India, 38 

Archer, Laurence, Account of the Sikh 

Wars, 141 
Army of the Indus, Starts from Feroze- 

pur, 75 
Artillery, Foot, 34 
Artillery, Horse, 34 
Asirghar, Fall of, 6 
Auckland, Lord, Reviews Sikhs, 85 
Aurungzebe, 17 
Avitable, General, 85 

Backhouse, 72 

Baggage Trains, 150, 352 

Bagput, Lake at, 42 

Baji Rao (see Peshwa) 

Baldeo Singh of Bhurtpur, 61 

Bancroft, Q.M.S., 123, 127 

Bangalore, 7 

Barlow, Sir George, Governor-General, 55 

Belooch Tribes, 109, 113 

Bengal Horse Artillery, 

— in Sikh Wars, 123 

— at Ferozeshah, 123 
Bengal Sepoy, 133 
Beresfords at Delhi, 176 
Berquien, M. Louis, 37 

— surrenders, 38 
Bhao, The, 23 
Bhagwan Jhanda, 23 
Bhurtpur, First Siege of, 52 



Bhurtpur, Second Siege of, 56 

— Final Capture of, 61 

— Taunt of, 55 

— Rajah of, Sues for Peace, 55 
Black Mango Tree, Battle of, 15 
Bolan Pass in 1839, 74 
Bombay Horse Artillery, 113 
Bombay Troops at Bhurtpur, 53 
Brahmins in Maharasthra, 15 

— Dekhani, 63 

British reach Kabul, 1839, 75 
Broadfoot, Major George, 72 

— death of, 87 

— Major W., 81 
Broadfoot's Sappers, 79 
Brydon, Dr., 80 

'Bullock's Hump' — Kirkee, 67 

Buonaparte and India, 32, 73 

Burn, Lieut. -Colonel, 39 

Burnes, Sir Alexander, Mission to Kabul, 

74 
Burnes, Sir Alexander, Murder of, 79 
Burr, Colonel, 68 
Butler, Lady, Picture by, 80 

Campbell, General Colin, 137 
Carmichael-Smith, 34-5 
Castlebar, Lord Lake at, 35 
Chamberlain, Neville, 76 

— at Chillianwallah, 139 
Chenab River, 136 
Chess, in the East, 17 
Chillianwallah, Atrocities at, 142 

— advance to, 137 

— Colours of the 24th Foot at, 140 

— description of the Field of, 139 

— Lord Gough at, 139 

— Sikh Position at, 137 

— Troops at, 138 
Chouth, 64 

— claimed by Mahrattas, 17 
Clarke-Travers, Colonel, at Dargai, 191 
Clifford, Miss, Murder of, 169 
Combermere, Lord, 13, 43 

— at Bhurtpur, 57 
Cookson, Major-General, 185 
Core gaum, 66 
Cornwallis, Lord, 2 

"Crowning Mercy, the" of Goojerat, 158 
Curtis, Mrs., at Maharajpore, 91 
Curzon, Lord, preserves Monument, 134 

D'Arcy Todd, 135 

Dalhousie, Lord, and Gough, 144 



212 



INDEX 



Dalhousie, Lord, and Napier, 119 

Dapooree, 67 

Dargai, Storming of, 182 

De Boigne, M., 31 

Deig, Battle of, 44-5 

— Capture of, 48 

Delamain, Colonel, at Bhurtpur, 59 
Delhi, Battle of, 1803, 31 

— becomes British, 38 

— Defence of, 1804, 31 

— Dawn at, nth May '57, 159 

— Palace on nth May '57, 163 

— Selimghar, 163 

— Ridge, 160 

— Siege of, 160 

— Retrospect of, 160 

— Medals and Clasps for, 160 

— Durbar, 171 
Dennie, Colonel, 82 
'Derbys' at Dargai, 191 
Deserters from British ranks, 58 
Dhulip Singh, Prince, 122 
Doabs, the Punjab, 145 

Don, Colonel, at Bhurtpur, 53 
Door j an Sal, 56 
Dost, Muhammad, 75 
Dorset Regiment, at Dargai, 191 
Douglas, Captain, of the King's Guard, 163 
Dravidians, 63 

Dress of the Army in 1803, 50-1 
Duke of Wellington, and Lord Comber- 
mere, 57 
Dundoo Punt, the Nana, 16 
Durand, Sir M., 147 
Durani Empire, Order of, 86 

Earthquake at Jalalabad, 83 
Ellenborough, Lord, arrives in India, 83 

— at Maharajpore, 95 
Elphinstone, Major General Mount- 

stuart, 76 

— at Poona, 67 

— escapes Mahrattas, 68 
Emamghar, Destruction of, 113 
Emperor of Russia, Designs on India, 73 
England, General, at Haikalzai, 109 

Fanshawe, Book on Delhi, 164 
Ferozeshuhr or -shah, 125 

— Meaning of, 125 

— Midnight Bivouac, 127 
Flodden Field, 28 

Forde, Captain, at Kirkee, 69 
Fort St. George, Madras, 65 
Fraser, Major-General, 41 
Fraser, Simon, Commissioner, 163 
Frontier Troubles, 1897, 183 

— Policy of Government, 185 
Furruckabad, 45 
Futtyghur, 44 

Gardiner, Colonel, at Jammoo, 86 
Garpir Cantonment, 67 
Ghilzais, Fight with, 77 
Ghorcherras, Sikh, 154 
Ghuzni, Storming of, 75 



Gilbert, General, at Ferozeshah, 128 

— his division at Goojerat, 156 

— his Pursuit of Dy Shan, 157 

Good Feeling Between British and Indian 

Troops, 55 
Goojerat, Battle of, 141-3 

— Artillery at, 153 

— British Force at, 149 

— British Plans at, 150 

— Cavalry at, 151 

— Afghans at, 152 

— Sikh Force at, 152 

Gordon Highlanders at Dargai, 191 
Gough, Lord, at Gwalior, 91 

— at Moodki, 124 

— and Hardinge, 125 

— and his Artillery, 155 

— and the Bayonet, 43 

— and his Staff at Goojerat, 155 

— plans for Ferozeshah, 126 

— moves towards the Chenab, 146 

— and his Fighting Coat, 152 
Gough, Lady, at Maharajpore, 91 
Gough, Sir Hugh, v. Lord Gough 
Governor-General's Band at Moodkee, 125 
Grand Army, 1804, 41 

Grand Trunk Road, 148 

Grant-Duff, His Story of Painpat, 23 

Grant, Sir Patrick, 132 

— and Lord Dalhousie, 132 
Grey, Sir John, at Punniar, 92 
Gurkhas, 2nd, at Dargai, 191 
Gwalior Campaign, Baggage at, 101 

— Star, 86 

— Star, Method of Wearing, 101 

— Campaign, 86 

— Army, 1843, 85 

Haikalzai, Reverse at, 109 

Harapsar, Battle of, 66 

Hardinge, Sir H., and Sikhs, 122 

Hastings, Battle of, 27 

Hastings, Warren, 1, 3 

Havelock, Capt. H., at Jalalabad, 78 

— at Maharajpore, 95 
Hindun, River, 1803, 33 
Holberton, Colonel, 63 
Holkar, Jeswunt Rao, 39 

— at Poona, 9 

— at Bhurtpur, 55 

— at Paniput, 27 

— Pursuit of, 40 
Holkar's, Bridge, 68 

Horse Artillery, newly raised, 34 
Hutchinson, collector at Delhi, 163 
Huthwaite, Brig., commands artillery at 

Goojerat, 150 
Hyderabad, Battle of, 116 

Ibrahim Khan Gardee, 21 
Illustrious Garrison, the, 72 

— composition of, 77 



Jacob, Captain John, 
Jagdallak, Pass, 77 



16 



INDEX 



213 



Jageenah Gate, of Bhurtpur, 59 
Jalalabad, Defence of, 72 

— Earthquake at, 82 

— Council of War at, 82 
Jammoo, 86 

Jat, Rajah, 1805, 57 

Jats at Paniput, 24 

Jennings, Chaplain at Delhi, 168 

— murder of, 169 

Jeswunt Rao Holkar [see Holkar) 
Jeypur, Transport Train, 185 
Jhelum, River, 137 
Juanita at Maharajpore, 91 
Judgment of the Sword, 81 

Kabul, Ladies in, 76 

Kafiristan, 78 

Kalloras of Sind, 112 

Kandahar, Withdrawing from, 1842, 109 

Kashmir Gate, 160 

Khaiber Pass, in 1897, 184 

Khaiber Rifles, Abandonment of, 184 

Khairput, Amir of, 112 

Khanki Valley, 187 

Khotan, 78 

Khoree Pass (Chillianwallah), 145 

Kirkee, Battle of, 67 

Kohat, The Assembly of Troops at, 186 

Kurnal, 135 

Kurrachee, 109 

Lake, General, Pursuit of Holkar, 40 

— Failure at Bhurtpur, 54 

— Raised to Peerage, 54 

— at Delhi, 37 
Laswari, Battle of, 38 

Lawrence, George Returns to Sikhs, 146 

Lawrence, Sir Henry, 147 

Little, Captain, 7 

Little, Sir John at Ferozeshah, 122 

Lockhart, General Sir William, 186 

— His plans for Tirah, 188 

MacGregor, Captain, at Jalalabad, 78 

— Letters to Peshawar, 81 
MacNaghten, Sir W., Murder of, 79 
Magazine, the, at Delhi, 161 

— Blown up, 171 
Maharajpore, Battle of, 94 
Mahrattas, Origin of, 63 
Mahrattas at Delhi, 19 

— and Lord Wellesley's Policy, 65 
Mahratta War, 40 

— Second, 32, 42 

— Third, 41 

— of 1843, Gwalior, 88 
Mahratta Standards, 69 
Mainpuri, Lake at, 45 

Maitland, Colonel, killed at Bhurtpur, 52 
Malcolm, General, 6 
Master Gunner, the, 172 
Mathias, Colonel, at Dargai, 191 
Mayne, Captain, 2nd Shah's Horse, 82 
McGaskill, Sir John, 124, 135 
McRae, Colonel, at Bhurtpur, 53 



Medals for Afghan War, 1839-42, 87 

— Scinde, 119 

— Punjab Campaign, 150 
Meeanee, Battle of, 114 

— Force at, 115 
Mehidpur, 66 

'Midnight Bivouac' The, 129 

Mogul Family at Delhi, Guilt of, 170 

Moira, Lord, 65 

Moodkee, Battle of, 124 

Moolchand, Rebellion of, 136 

Mornington, Lord, 31 

Moro Dixit, 69 

Muhammad Shah of Persia, 18, 73 

— Besieges Herat, 73 
Mulhar Rao Holkar, 28 
Multan, Siege of, 47 

— Storming of, 136 

— Column joins Gough, 146 
Mutiny, Indian, First signs, 162 

— Greased Cartridges, 162 

— at Meerut, 162 

Nadir Shah, at Delhi, 18, 103 
Nana Furnavis, 8 
Napier, Sir Charles, 107 

— his relatives, 108 

— Corrects fallacies re Jezails and Brown 

Bess, 108 

— and Afghan disasters, 107 

— arrival in Sind, 108 

— and Outram, no, III 

— his Policy, 112 

— and Gough, 119 

— Stories of, 119 

— Commander-in-Chief -in India, 143 
Neil, General, 176 

Nicholls, Jasper, General, 59 

Nikovitch at Kabul, 74 

Nizam's Army, 202 

Nott, General, at Kandahar, 74, 84 

Notts and Derby Regt., at Dargai, 191 

Nundy droog, 7 

Nusseeree Battalion, 59 

Ochterlony, Col., at Delhi, 38, 39 

— Sir David and Bhurtpur, 57 
Omarkot in Sind, Capture of, 117 
Outram Major, 108 

— and Napier, no 

— and Amirs during Afghan Trouble, 111 

— and Napier First clash, in 

— in Residency at Hyderabad, 115 
Ordnance Dept. at Delhi, 161 

Palmer, Sir Power, General, 186 

Pan-Hindu, 25 

Panipat, Last Battle of, 22 

Parbutti Hill, Poona, 69 

Penn-Symonds, General, 186 

Perron, M., 30-1 

Peshwa, The, Rise of, 17 

— at Kirkee, 69 

— at Panipat, 27, 28 
Pindari chiefs, 9 

— War, 62 



214 



INDEX 



Political Officers, Undue Influence of, 68 
Pollock, General in Command at Pesha- 
war, 84 

— Triumphal Return to Ferozepore, 87 
Poona, 1817, 67 

— Horse, at Meeanee, 114, 116 
Poorbeah Sepoys and Sikhs, 141 
Porus, King, 137 

Pottinger, Eldred, 74 
Punniar, Battle of, 97 
Punjab Campaign, 135 

Quetta, 1839, 74 

Rait R., Biography of Lord Gough, 147 

Rajmachee Fort, 8 

Rawdon v. Moira, 65 

Ridge at Delhi, 160 

Roberts, Colonel, at Sukkur, 115 

Rohilla Horse, 23 

Rose, Lieut., at Delhi, 39 

Runjhit Singh, Maharajah, at Ferozepore, 

85 

— his Wisdom, 121 
Russian Designs on India, 73 

Sahibs in the old Time, 200 
Sale, Lady, at Kabul, 81 

— her Letters, 81 

— General, at Jalalabad, 81 

— his Brigade, 71 

— composition of, 77 
Samana Forts, 184 
Sangster at Agra, 4, 31 
Saragarhi, 184 
Sebastopol, Siege of, 47 
Seetabaldi, 61 

Seetaram, Subahdar, his Story, 195 

— Enslaved at Kabul, 203 

Sepoy compared to Portuguese, 133 

— to Subahdar, 194 
Shah Alum II, 32 
Shah's Contingent, 75 
Shah Kamran, 74 
Shah Shujah, 74 
Shah Zeman, 73 
Shakos in 1804, 51 
Sieges, British, 47 

— of Bhurtpur, 45 
Sikh Army, 1838, 84 

— at Ferozepore, 84 

— Review of, 84 

— Europeans in, 84 
Sikh War, 120 

— Uniforms in, 121 

— Opening of, 124 

— Causes of First, 122 

— Second, 135 

— Conduct of Sepoys in, 133 
Sikh Anarchy, 121 

Sind, Conquest of, 102 

— Historical outline of, 103 

— Amirs of, no 

— Horse, no and 113 
Sindiah, Daulat Rao, 89 

— Junkojie Rao, 89 



Sindiah Mahdojee escapes from Panipat, 27 

— Jankoji Slain at Panipat, 27 
Singhar Fort, 66 

Sirdhana, 13 

Sivaji, 15 

Skinner, Colonel, 14 

Smith, Sir Harry, Criticism of Gwalior 

Campaign, 100 
Snarleyow Story of, 123 
Sombre, 49 
Samru Begum, 13, 49 
Stapylton-Cotton (Lord Combermere), 43 
Steel, Mrs. F. H., her Book, 164 
Stein, Dr., 78 
Stephenson, Colonel, 32 
Storming of Dargai, 153 
Subsidiary Forces, Policy of, 65 
Sukkur Barrage, 102 
Surrender of Sikh Army, 157 
Sutlej, Campaign, 135 

Tej Singh at Ferozeshah, 131 
Tennant, Brigadier-General at Goojerat, 

150 
Thackwell, Sir J. at Gwalior, 93 

— Narrative by, 146 

— at Chillianwallah, 137 
Thomas, George, 49 
Tilly, Count, 17 

Tirah, Campaign, 155 

Tombs, H., on the Hindun, 150 

— Tears off High Collars, 150 
Tripartite Treaty, 122 

Umballa Cantonment founded, 134 

— Start from, in Sutlej Campaign, 124 
Upper India, old Frontier of, 134 

Vans Agnew, Murder of, at Multan, 136 
Ventura, General, 35 
Vilayatis, 38 
Vinchorla, 68 

Wana Affair, 183 
Waziristan Trouble in, 183 
Wellesley, Marquis, 31 

— Sir Arthur, 31 
and Brinjaras, 24 

Wellington, Duke of, and Lord Ellen- 
borough, 97-9 
Wild's Brigade reaches Peshawar, 79 
Wild Fails to Force Khaiber, 81 
Willoughby, Lieutenant, blows up Mag- 
azine, 171 
Wilson, Sir A., at Delhi, 33, 160 

— his Character, 160 

Wiswas Rao, Slain at Panipat, 27 

Yeatman-Biggs, General, 186 
Young, Captain, Drawing by, 91 

Zaman Shah, Emperor, 73 
Zeenat-Mahal, Queen of Delhi, 170 
Zer Jaroka, 150 
Zola's Ddbdcle, 96 



DS MacMunn, (Sir) George Fletcher 

463 Vignettes from Indian wars 

H33 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY